Poverty & Recession: Nursing Mothers, Others Abscond From Hospitals Over Fees

The current economic crisis rocking Nigeria is seriously hitting hard on the nation’s health sector.

Investigations during the week revealed that many patients, including pregnant women, have either been shunning or absconding from public hospitals due to the high cost of accessing medical care.

Some patients are resorting to seeking help in traditional healing homes and places of worship.

Chief Medical Director, University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin, Prof. Abdulwaheed Olatinwo, told Punch correspondents that many patients had been unable to pay their bills after treatments.

He said, “The problem is that more people cannot pay. We now need to be looking for more funds to take care of the poor as we cannot turn down people, most especially, emergency cases. For those who cannot pay, it is either we write their bills off or we rely on some philanthropists assistance.”

Director-General, Kwara state Hospital Management Bureau, Dr Olubunmi Jetawo-Winter, also said new mothers and other patients had been absconding from the hospital without paying their bills.

Jetawo-Winter, who said that the development was connected with the current economic challenges in Nigeria, said, “We have a lot of patients who are unable to pay their bills. I believe it is because of the situation of the country.

“We have people who are admitted and when they are fairly okay, even when they had not been discharged yet, they abscond because they do not want to wait until they are discharged to avoid paying their bills.

“There have been cases where patients will pretend as if they are going to the bathroom or to the restroom and just abscond from there. They now understand that when it is an emergency, we must treat them before asking for money in accordance with the instruction given to all the hospitals.

“Some patients, especially expectant mothers, are a classical example. They only come to the hospitals when the heads of their babies are already sticking out and at that point, we do not have a choice but to deliver them of the babies and make sure that the baby and the mother are safe. The moment that happens, they abscond.”