“The harsh economic times in Nigeria is currently forcing humanitarian organizations to do the absurd. For instance in the health sector, all the good virtues of Florence Nightingale, the mother of nursing, have been thrown into the abyss. Medical doctors act on patients no matter how critical the condition, based on the colour of their currency bill” (This Day, August 18, 2016)
“A disturbing but common practice in many developing countries is the detainment of women who have recently given birth and who cannot afford their hospital charges”
(This Day, August 18, 2016)
Stories of patients being held hostages at medical facilities due to their inability to offset their medical bills abound across the breath of Nigeria.
Such were the cases of Mrs. Charity Ekezie, Miss Chika Okafor, Mr. Eke Ukaonu and Mr. Chimuanya Nwachukwu, just to mention but a few.
MRS. CHARITY EKEZIE
During one of our (AHF) routine hospital visits in the month of June 2010 at Braithwaite Memorial Specialist Hospital, Port Harcourt, we came in contact with Mrs. Charity Ekezie who was held hostage by the hospital’s management due to her inability to pay her medical bills after going through a fibroid removal surgery which left her bleeding for months.
Mrs. Ekezie as seen on the pictures above was full of excitement as the Arm of Hope medical team led by the National Coordinator after being informed of her plight, paid her bills in full and took her home to her family in Etche L.G.A, Rivers State.
MISS CHIKA OKAFOR
Miss Chika Okafor, a young lady from Imo State, Nigeria, was a victim of a ghastly auto crash that led to the amputation of her right leg in Anambra State University Teaching Hospital, Nnewi. After almost a year in the hospital receiving treatment for the amputated leg, her bill rose beyond the capacity of her poor parents who had nowhere to go for help. Her joy and that of her widow mother knew no bound as our medical team who visited the hospital on the 3rd of November, 2011 due to information earlier received about her plight, paid her bill (₦687,000) for which she was held hostage for over two months after she was due to go home. A wheel chair was bought for her at the cost of ₦36,000 only and she was taken home by AHF medical team on the same day.
of the hospital ward where she had been detained for over two months, on her way home.
MR. EKE UKAONU
In the case of Mr. Eke Ukaonu, a diabetic retired soldier whose right limb was amputated due to foot ulcer at Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, the information of his plight was brought to our foundation’s head office by his daughter who abandoned her education in the University of Port Harcourt as the school fees given to her was being used for her father’s medical treatment until she could no longer both attend school nor continue with the treatment of her dad. Her story was so pathetic that the president of AHF directed the medical department to visit the hospital and ascertain the true position of what was told by his daughter.
After the visit of the medical team, Mr. Eke Ukaonu’s story was confirmed not only to be true but even worse than what was told as the hospital has long abandoned treatment and removed him out of the bed to the floor and yet could not be allowed to go home as a result of ₦428,000 being the amount already incurred at the time treatment was abandoned.
The board on receiving the report, authorized the immediate payment of the bill and the continuation of treatment until he was discharged and wheel chair was bought for him.
His daughter, Miss Joy Ukaonu Was also granted scholarship by the foundation to complete her education in the University of Port Harcourt.
Mr. Eke Ukaonu was given a prosthesis limb bought for him by the foundation and was financially empowered to become self-reliant.
The pictures above shows Mr. Eke Ukaonu while in the hospital.
The picture above shows Mr. Eke Ukaonu about to be wheeled out of the hospital to his home by the foundation’s medical team.
The picture above shows Mr. Eke Ukaonu and his wife receiving financial empowerment after they were brought home by our team
Chimuanya Chinonso hails from Mbaise in Imo State of Nigeria. He was involved in a car accident and as a result, he lost his left leg. After the accident, he was rushed to Christiana Specialist Hospital Egbu, Owerri. His poor parents, who had no means of livelihood, could not raise the money needed. On a compassionate ground, the hospital kept treating him until the amputation was done on his leg. After the amputation, it got to a point where the hospital was no longer able to continue the treatment on him because he was poor and unable to raise the fees for any of his medical bills.
He was neglected for a while but when the hospital management saw that he was abandoned with no one coming to his rescue to pay the outstanding fees and provide for his full treatment, they decided to continue treatment on the condition that he will not be discharged till all his accrued medical bills were cleared (₦750,000 .00).
The picture above shows Chimuanya’s first contact with AHF while still in the hospital
As kind as the members of Chimuanya’s community were and how much he was loved, they levied themselves in order to raise some money after they heard that he was soon going to be discharged from the hospital, and after two months they were only able to raise Seventeen Thousand Naira (₦17,000 .00), which was not even close to the amount the hospital demanded. After he had received all needed medical treatment he was discharged, but held back for a period of two months due to unpaid bills.
Fate smiled on him on the 9th of September, 2011 when Arm of Hope Foundation (AHF) medical team took another beneficiary to the same hospital for treatment and got to know about Chimuanya’s situation. His story was a typical case of lack of access to affordable health care, extreme poverty, and abandonment by his care givers due to their low-socio-economic status.
After verification about the state of his stay in the hospital was made, the board of directors approved for the payment of all his medical bills without his knowledge. Two days after the payment was made, AHF president and the medical team made the trip to the hospital to take him home.
When president of AHF and volunteers arrived at the hospital, they informed him that he was going home, and had been freed from his overwhelming medical bills he suddenly burst into tears, overjoyed that finally the burden had been lifted from his young shoulders and he can go home. He arrived in his small community unannounced in the company of the AHF president and members and they were all surprised and filled with joy to see their boy finally returned home in good health.