Some pregnant women disrupted activities at the Ondo State Specialist Hospital, Akure, on Thursday, as they protested against alleged outrageous bills charged for their antenatal care by the state government.
The protesters alleged that the Governor Rotimi Akeredolu-led administration had begun to charge N25,000 for deliveries, as against the free birth policy of the former administration.
The expectant mothers, numbering over 100, blocked the main entrance into the hospital and Hospital Road, Akure, for several hours.
The women cursed and sang anti-government songs, as they prevented workers at the government hospital from going in or coming out of the premises.
The protesters explained that the government increased the cost of their antenatal bill by over 300 per cent, adding that some of the services used to be free.
They called on Akeredolu to reverse the increment.
One of them noted that during the administration of the previous government, they used to pay N1,000 for registration, while delivery was free.
“But now, the registration fee has been increased to N4,000. We have to pay N500 for every antenatal appointment and N25,000 for a normal delivery,” she added.
Another protester, who identified herself as Mrs. Wuraola Ajani, said she had been paying the new fees since she registered at the beginning of this year.
She said, “The hospital workers told us that they had been ordered by the state government to collect the new fees, and we were not given any receipt for them.”
Another protester, who refused to identify herself, alleged that the cost of antenatal services was increased in December 2017, while other fees were introduced after the Easter break.
She said most of the pregnant women had resorted to patronising traditional midwives and private medical centres because of the outrageous bills.
She said, “This morning when we got to the hospital, we were asked to pay N500 each before they could attend to us. Meanwhile before now, we used to register with N2,500, which covered the whole antenatal period.
“But now, they ask us to pay every time we want to see a doctor and that we should prepare N25,000 for our deliveries. Those who registered today had to pay N4,000 as against the N1,000 we used to pay for antenatal.
“We made a formal complaint to the office of the Chief Medical Director; he failed to address us and we decided to protest against the obnoxious policies of the hospital board and the state government.
“We were asked to pay N500 per consultancy session. We suddenly realised that we will still pay N25,000 for delivery. They collected N4,000 for registration without giving us any drug; we are tired of these policies of Mr. Akeredolu.”
Addressing the protesters, the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro, said the alleged increment in delivery fee was false, adding that there was no plan to increase any fee for pregnant women.
He said, “There is nothing like N25,000 for delivery; it is false information. The normal delivery fee remains N5,000. The government has not increased any bill.
“The service charge for antenatal patients should be lower than other patients and that is why the money (N4,000) covers every test, investigation and analysis.”
The Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr. Moses Adewole, who denied the development, said there was no increase in the cost of delivery for pregnant women at the hospital.
He, however, said the newly introduced N500 for every antenatal appointment was introduced by the management to subsidise the running cost of the hospital.
He appealed to the protesting pregnant women to cooperate with the management.
“Everything in this country is on the high side. Most of the time, we depend on our generator because power from the national grid cannot carry most of the equipment in the hospital, “ Adewole said.