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State House Clinic -Daily Trust Editorial

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Last week a Daily Trust investigative report showed that patients at the State House Medical Centre, Abuja were groaning over lack of drugs and equipment. The report said the clinic, which is meant to serve Nigeria’s president, vice president and their families as well as Presidency staffers and other privileged individuals, lacked drugs, including common ones like Paracetamol and Vitamin B-complex. It also lacked consumables such as syringes and cotton wool. Simple tests such as malaria cannot be conducted at the facility due to non-availability of necessary equipment. All these despite the fact that N3.8 billion was budgeted for this centre in 2016 and another N331.7million in 2017 with zero capital allocation.

This discovery is a shame to say the least. How can a clinic that is supposed to cater for the nation’s top citizens lack drugs and equipment? The situation however mirrors what obtains in government owned hospitals across the country. If this clinic lacks drugs, what should one expect of government health facilities that serve the masses? This is precisely why medical tourism from Nigeria flourishes. If this administration had provided good hospitals as it earlier promised, top officials would have been seeking medical care locally, which would have set a good example for other citizens.  


It amounts to double jeopardy for Nigeria that money is voted for the clinic only to be siphoned away while officials seek medical care abroad with public funds. Permanent Secretary of the State House Jalal Arabi told Daily Trust that “no matter how much is spent on supply, drugs would finish and there would be a problem if there is no allocation.” On how much has so far been released to the clinic this year, he said, “Honestly, I can’t say offhand but it’s really paltry and I don’t want to blame anybody. It’s because of the situation we find ourselves in terms of revenue generation. But no matter how much is released, so long as you don’t commercialise it (the clinic) or there’s a way you generate money to replenish whatever is given out, it would finish.”

Arabi added that: “If you leave your gate wide open, like we do at the State House Medical Centre, patients would come, and if they come, you prescribe drugs and give them based on availability. So long as you don’t charge a kobo, they’re coming in and out and you’re giving them drugs, certainly, one day, the drugs will finish”. In truth, not many Nigerians have access to the State House clinic and even if there were lots of people using the facility, it does not justify the fact that the last time drugs were supplied to it was in April.

Although the Permanent Secretary harped on the fact that the centre treats patients free of charge, this should not be overemphasised since money is appropriated for it every year. Arabi also mentioned that maintenance of the centre’s magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and other scan machines gulp about N2 million monthly. If such huge sum is spent on maintenance, why then was the machine not available for use when patients visited? Something is definitely not right and there is a need for probe.  Relevant authorities should probe how money appropriated for the clinic between 2015 and now was spent and anyone found wanting in the course of the investigation should face the full wrath of the law to serve as a deterrent to others.  

Apart from the State House clinic, patients going to public hospitals all across the country have the same sordid tales to tell. No drugs, no equipment, poor service attitude. The government should use the State House clinic as a spring board to launch investigation into the management of all public health centres across the country so as to ensure that citizens can access quality and affordable health care.

Daily Trust

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