Over 200 pregnant women, who have registered for ante-natal treatment in Ondo State Specialist Hospital, Akure, yesterday stormed the hospital to protest against upscale hike in treatment fees by the hospital management.
The awaiting mothers, chanting protest songs against Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu-led government barricaded the hospital’s main entrance and prevented other patients, who were receiving treatment.
The expectant mothers, who also prevented members of staff and principal officers from gaining access into the premises, causing traffic congestion for over two hours along the Hospital Road, vowed to resist the upsurge in the cost of services at the hospital, which they lamented was over 300 per cent, until the state government reverses the anti-people policy.
They stated that they used to pay N1,000 as registration fee for ante-natal while delivery was free throughout past administration but lamented that the fee was increased to N4,000 and N25,000 for normal delivery while the management introduced a new fee of N500 for every ante-natal appointment.
However, it took a dramatic turn as one of the pregnant women, who was near delivery, got into labour at the ante-natal unit of the hospital, but there was no doctor to attend to her.
The Guardian spotted some people and supporters praying for her till she delivered a baby girl.
One of the pregnant women, Sharon Arise, noted that the new charges were imposed on them by the hospital management through the directives of the state government.
She lamented that most of the pregnant women in the state have resorted to traditional midwives and private hospitals because of the outrageous bills and fees.
Meanwhile, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the hospital, Dr. Moses Adewole, who denied the development while addressing journalists, said there was no increment in the cost of delivery in the hospital.
He, however, said that the newly-introduced N500 for every ante-natal appointment was introduced by the management to subsidise the running cost in the hospital but appealed to the pregnant women to co-operate with the hospital
This explanation by the CMD irked the pregnant women who refused to listen to him and started singing anti-government songs, insisting that would not pay the new fees.
The Permanent Secretary of the hospital management board, Dr. Adeniran Ikuomola, worsened the situation when he seized the phones of the protesting women and was booed out of the hall.
The protesting women declined to enter the hall to listen to Ikuomola until after the arrival of the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro, who reversed the new increase in the cost of services at the hospital.
He 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 ante-natal appointment and should revert to the old system.”
Adegbenro described the increase in the delivery fee as false, saying there was no plan to increase the delivery fee.