Residents of Kuje Area Council in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), especially the Gbagy and Gade indigenes of the area, have appealed to the FCT minister,
Malam Muhammad Musa Bello to save them from what they called ‘exorbitant prices’ of medical services in the Kuje General Hospital.
In a petition signed by Mrs. Asabe Dantani, Abraham Ishmail, Aisha Dogo Samaila and Dangade Abubakar, and forwarded to the office of the minister, the residents said that the high prices of medical services which have been made compulsory for any patient seeking for medical attention, have been driving them back to quacks and dangerous traditional practitioners, especially for women that are pregnant.
The petition, dated August 23, 2016, said that the Kuje hospital management has made it compulsory for pregnant women to register with N1,800 each and that each pregnant woman is made to compulsorily pay N10,500 for delivery items even as N25,000 is charged for surgery pack.
“All such charges excluding the drugs the woman would require from the point of delivery up to the time of discharge. The unbooked patient is made to pay additional N5, 000 for normal delivery and N30,000 for surgery in addition to the booked patients.
“For the booked patient, she must have spent over N50,000 on single delivery, including surgery without drugs at the end of the day, while the unbooked one would have spent close to N100,000 for the same purpose.”
“We are asking the honourable minister to save us from this unfriendly medical environment, especially in the Federal Capital Territory where ante-natal services for the pregnant women are supposed to be free. We are also aware of the federal government concern and commitment to the free maternal health care services which must not be allowed to be abused.”
Information reaching us showed that most of the women, who can barely afford their transport, usually go to the hospital from remote villages and most times ended up returning to their villages without being attended to for lack of money to settle the hospital bills, even as many of them used to run away after receiving treatments.
This is even as women in Niger State have called on the state government to call health workers to order, adding that the non availability of health workers in the existing health facilities across the state need for urgent intervention.
The women, who are largely mothers and pregnant residents, complained about the attitude of the health care staff on ground, which they said needed to be addressed.
They said most healthcare facilities needed to be equipped to be able to take care of women.
They said this on Wednesday during a town hall meeting organized by White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria in Chachanga and Wushishi local government areas of Niger State.
They called on the government to work towards recruiting more hands to meet the health needs of the people.
The participants, who lamented that they have no place to lay their health complaint, stated that they do not know about the Ward Health Development Committee set up by the government because the committee is either not active or non-existent.
One of the participants, Hajiya Asmau Usman, said: “We do not go to the hospital anymore because the nurses are hostile and not encouraging.
“The Ward Health Development Committees are not active. They are there merely for political use.
“We are not even aware of health centres in our local government apart from the general hospital.”
Also, a Traditional Birth Attendant, Hajia Binta Abdullahi, said she is surprised to hear that there are committees taking care of health issues in the wards and local government, adding that most people are not aware of it as they (birth attendants) still receive pregnant women for delivery.
Abdullahi called on government to ensure that the birth attendants are carried along to enable them save more lives, especially as most women arrive to them in critical conditions.
The National Coordinator of The White Ribbon Alliance Nigeria, Tonte Ibraye, said they will work towards improving citizens engagement in policy making and service delivery in the health sector in the state.
Ibraye lamented that 28 per cent of pregnant women in the state do not consider it necessary to deliver in a health facility, adding that this had given rise to maternal mortality in the state.
Ibraye stressed on the need for government to remain accountable and deliver on the commitments in ensuring that the citizens, especially pregnant women, get decent and respectable health care.
The town hall meetings in Chachanga and Wushishi local government areas had in attendance about 300 people, out of which 97 per cent indicated that they are not aware of health policies, 86 per cent stating that the Ward Development Committee for Health is not functional, while 90 per cent indicated that there is no platform for accountability in the health sector.