No fewer than 200 pregnant women, yesterday, blocked the main entrance of the Ondo State Specialist Hospital, Akure, in protest of increase in the cost of maternity services at government owned hospital.
The pregnant women, who prevented patients, workers and people from entering the hospital, vowed to resist the over 300 per cent in the increase of the cost of services in the hospital.
The protesters, who also hindered vehicular movement at the ever busy hospital road for more than two hours, with their protruding stomachs, sat at the entrance of the hospital, chanting anti – government songs.
While calling for reverse of the bills, the expectant mothers explained that they usually pay N1, 000 as registration for antenatal while delivery was free.
They noted that the bill has been increased to N4, 000, while they have to pay N500 for every antenatal appointment and N25, 000 for normal delivery.
A pregnant woman, who was about to deliver, was seen at the antenatal unit of the hospital where there was no doctor to attend to her, while some people were seen praying for her before she delivered a baby girl.
Speaking with our correspondent during the protest, a pregnant woman, Mrs Sharon Arise, said the new increased fees were being collected from them by the hospital’s officials on the order of the state government.
Mrs Sharon noted that the services were free before the advent of this present administration in the state.
She said the cost of antenatal services were increased last December while other fees were introduced after the Easter break.
According to her, most of the pregnant women in the state have resorted to traditional midwives and private hospitals because of the outrageous bill and fee.
She said, “This morning when we got to the hospital, we were asked to pay N500 each before they could attend to us and initially, when we registered, it was with N2,500 which is to cover the whole antenatal period.
“But now, they asked us to pay every time we need to see the doctor and that we should prepare N25, 000 ahead of our delivery and those who registered today had to pay N4, 000 as against N1, 000 which we used to pay before for antenatal.
“We made a formal complaint at the office of the CMD, he failed to attend to us or address us and we decided to protest against the obnoxious policies of the hospital board and the state government.
“We were asked to be paying N500 per consultancy session but we suddenly discovered that we are to pay N25, 000 for delivery. They collected N4, 000 for registration, with no drugs for us. “
Addressing the protesters, the chief medical director of the General Hospital, Dr Moses Adewole, who denied the development, said there was no increase in the cost of delivery of the pregnant women in the hospital.
Adewole however, said the newly introduced N500 for every antenatal appointment was done by the management to subsidise the running cost in the hospital.
The CMD appealed to the pregnant women to cooperate with the hospital in discharging its duty effectively.
“Everything in this country is on the high side and most of the time, we depend on power from Power Generation set because the power from the National grid cannot power most of the equipment in the hospital and we depend on generator most of the time.”
The Commissioner of Health, Dr Wahab Adegbenro, appealed to the pregnant women and immediately reversed the new increase in the cost of services at the hospital.
Adegbenro said, “We have resolved the issue and I think there was communication gap and that was what caused the protest. The people were not properly briefed about what is going on, but we have cancelled the N500 for the antennal appointment and will revert to the old system.”