First Published February 9,2015
Joy and excitement were the predominant feelings at the homes of five women who were last week released by the management of Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba after being held for up to six months for their inability to pay for treatment for pregnancy/childbirth-related complications.
Patience Godday (42), Janet Nwachukwu(31) and Grace Bassey(31) were released last Wednesday after being held for six, three and one months, respectively( after being discharged)for inability to pay N700,000, and N500,000 apiece for treatment of obstetric-related complications while Iyabo Saji (23) was held for 3 months for N400,000 medical bill for road accident treatment.
When Hallmark visited the Goddays at the weekend at House Number 3, Lateef Street, nestled by a row of other ramshackle buildings at the heart of the densely populated Orile-Agege slum in Lagos, an air of excitement hung on the spectacularly decrepit one-room apartment the family lives in.
6-month old Baby Miracle who was weaned from her mother’s care while the later was still at the hospital clung to her mother with strong tiny hands.
Speaking with Hallmark, Mrs Godday who described her release as a ‘miracle’ said that she was still trying to adjust to the reality of it. “I feel very happy. I am still thinking about how it all happened. It is a miracle. I am now with my baby,” she gushed.
Mrs. Godday took Hallmark down memory lane on how her predicament started. Brandishing pictures of herself in pregnancy with abnormally enlarged breasts ( a condition which her medical report called bilateral hypermastia in pregnancy), she said she went to general Hospital, Ilepo from where she was eventually referred to from LUTH.
Also expressing happiness at her release, Mrs Bassey noted “I am very happy and I thank God.”
23-year old orphan, Abibat Mojemu, who was the first to breath the air of freedom on Monday February 2,2015 after being held for three months over about N300,000 medical bill said, “ I was not free before but now I am. I feel very happy to reunite with my grandmother.”
The women also thanked the Executive Director, Women Advocates Research and Documentation (WARDC), Dr Abiola Akiyode and Hallmark for the role they played in bringing their plight to public attention.
Dr Abiola Akiyode had on January 27, while leading a protest rally in Lagos which had in attendance leaders of civil society groups including Dr Joe Odumakin of Women Arise, demanded among other things for the release of women being held by LUTH for their inability to pay for maternal care.
She had argued that “The actions and policies of the authorities of LUTH to ‘detain women’ in relation to unpaid maternal health bills is not only interfering with their right to health but also leads to violations of the right to life.”
It would be recalled that on January 12, 2015, Hallmark reported that five women were being held by LUTH authorities after being discharged for up to six months for their inability to pay for treatment for obstetrics/accident related causes.