Women Empowerment
Written By : Esther Aladegbonmire

What Primary Health-care Centres (PHC) can do for Women and Children

March 05 / 2018


    Primary Health Care is the form of accessible and affordable health care offered to citizens in locations nearest to where they live. There are as many as 30,000 PHCs located in various wards in the 774 local government areas in Nigeria. Each PHCs offers healthcare to about 5000 citizens living in the wards.

    The idea is to ensure that citizens, especially vulnerable pregnant women and sick children will be able to access healthcare to prevent disability, reduce the number of people affected by disease outbreak and stop preventable death.

    Not all cases of disease prevention and treatment need to go to General and Teaching Hospitals. Primary Healthcare Centres are designed to function in much the same way as General and Teaching Hospitals, but to deal with easily treatable simple conditions. Only the more complicated diseases requiring major surgeries need to go to General and Teaching Hospitals. 

A functional PHC can increase access to quality health care for pregnant women, the newborn and children in the following ways:

  • A pregnant woman can confirm she is pregnant in a PHC and then register to receive care (antenatal care) throughout the pregnancy in the PHC. It’s more convenient as PHCs are often located close to the homes of pregnant women.
  • PHCs are cheaper but yet effective for antenatal care – they often don’t engage in complex and complicated procedures that are often not necessary when the pregnancy is normal.
  • PHC staff can also assess such pregnancies regularly, and should they find complications beyond their scope, they would normally refer such cases to General or Teaching Hospitals. Thankfully, such cases are rare, because most pregnancies are usually normal.
  • All the procedures normally done for pregnant women – tests for anaemia and malaria parasites, urine tests, anti-tetanus injections, and supply of malaria drugs and blood tablets are available in PHCs.
  • Pregnant women can also deliver in health centres with Midwives who are trained to do so. Should the midwife assess and find that there are likely to be problems with the delivery (such as when a caesarean section is needed), she would promptly refer to a higher level hospital.
  • Newborn babies can be taken care of in PHCs including provision of their scheduled immunizations and support for breastfeeding and treatment of minor ailments
  • Babies less than 5 years of age can be treated for minor ailments at PHCs including treatment for diarrhea, cough and catarrh, malaria and malnutrition.
  • PHCs also offer family planning services to enable families space their children effectively.
  • In particular, PHCs is the ideal place for youths, especially adolescents if they need information on reproductive health issues – such as pregnancy prevention and care services. This is because most PHCs are being upgraded by the Federal Ministry of Health to offer youth-friendly services.

Retrieved from Women’s Health and Action Research Centre policy brief series (2017)

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