Bauchi gov’s wife clears medical bills of 20 women

Payment of N500,000 healthcare bill of 20 women undergoing treatment at the Bauchi State Specialists’ Hospital by the state governor’s wife has brought to fore the burden of out-of-pocket servicing of medical care.

A Bauchi-based non-governmental organisation, Al-Muhibbah Foundation, on Monday settled N500,000 medical bill of 20 women undergoing treatment at the Bauchi State Specialists’ Hospital.

It was reported that founder of the organisation, Dr. Aisha Mohammed, rendered the assistance when she visited the hospital.

Aisha, who is the wife of the state governor, also distributed items such as diapers and sanitary pads to other women in the hospital.

The state’s First Lady also promised that certain drugs would be subsidised to further support patients, based on needs, adding that a centre had been identified for that purpose.

Responding to the gesture, the hospital’s Chief Medical Director, Dr. Ya’u Gital, said the hospital management would liaise with the social welfare officers domiciled in the hospital for effective service delivery.

Gital thanked the organisation for the initiative, adding that the gesture would impact positively on the lives of the people.

Speaking about the crippling implications of servicing medical bills out-of-pocket, online research portal, The Lancet, laments that Nigerian hospitals, public or private, demand upfront payments for treatment, noting, “There is an over-reliance on out-of-pocket payments in Nigeria.”

In a research published in the journal by Bolaji Samson Aregbeshola, the researcher stated that about 70 percent of Nigerians live in poverty, noting that out-of-pocket payments can make households and individuals incur catastrophic health expenditure, which can exacerbate the level of poverty.

He warned that such source of health-care financing negatively affects people’s living standards and welfare.

And, in situations where a health insurance would have solved the situation, Aregbesola said more than 90 percent of the Nigerian population is uninsured in spite of the establishment of a National Health Insurance Scheme in 2005.

“Less than five percent of Nigerians in the formal sector are covered by the NHIS. Only three percent of people in the informal sector are covered by voluntary private health insurance,” Aregbesola stated; noting that, “uninsured patients are at the mercy of a non-performing health system.”

He said private health insurance must be made mandatory, while the community-based health insurance scheme needs to be scaled up across the country.

“Out-of-pocket payments affect the ability of households and individuals to meet basic needs and push many below the poverty line,” he submitted.

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