Two non-governmental organisations, the Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre, and the Centre for Reproductive Rights, have petitioned the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, over the alleged detention of two patients by the Wesley Guild Hospital, Ilesha, Osun State, over their inability to settle medical bills after treatment.
The Executive Director, WARDC, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, alleged in a letter dated May 25, 2020, and addressed to the Chief Medical Director of the hospital that two patients, Funmilayo Taiwo and Taiwo Olowokere, were being detained unlawfully by the hospital.
The organisations explained that Funmilayo had been moved to the gatehouse of the hospital, because she could not settle a bill of N55,000 for her treatment of childbirth complications since April 4, 2020, while Olowokere had been detained since March over N170,000 treatment bill.
They demanded the immediate release of the patients and settlement plan of the bills within the means of the two women.
The petition read in part, “Due to the economic and social status of Miss Taiwo and Miss Olowokere, it is glaring that they will not be able to pay the sums billed them in the immediate.
“We demand the immediate release of Miss Funmilayo Taiwo and Miss Taiwo Olowokere and other people being held illegally in your facility and ask for a payment plan within their means.
“You should desist from the practice of detention after birth/accessing maternal services for women and immediately release every woman in your custody held in such a manner as such detention is illegal and a flagrant violation of the right to liberty of these women.
“Take notice that failure of the management of the Wesley Guild Hospital to take appropriate steps within the next three working days of the receipt of this petition will leave us with no option but to approach the court to enforce the rights of our clients and other women being held in the same circumstance.”
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the hospital, Kemi Fasooto, said the Chief Medical Director was not aware of the cases mentioned in the petition.
She said, “The CMD is not aware of the petition you mentioned. He is not aware of the cases. I just informed him. We will look into the cases this week.
“Anytime the CMD gets information like this, he discharges such patients, especially indigent patients. At times, after paying parts of the bills, if the patients are unable to settle the remainder, the CMD will discharge them.”