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Many new mothers have been detained at the Eastern Regional hospital in Koforidua for their inability to pay their medical bills.

Most of the new mothers went through caesarean sections, while others had their babies admitted at the neonatal Intensive Care Unit, services which have become very expensive in recent times.

The new mothers who claim they are over 20 say their medical bills range between Ghc4,000 to Gh1,000.

Speaking to the media, some of the new mothers said they lost their babies yet the hospital has presented huge medical bills to pay.

Some of the detained new mothers narrated that “We were referred from Begoro to this place. My Children were twins they put them in machine(incubator) they say one is dead yet they have not shown that dead baby to me because they say I have not paid my bills. What to eat is even a problem [she cried]. They said I should pay Ghc4,200.”

Another said “I have been discharged but I have not been able to pay my bills so still detained. There was blood from my baby’s mouth and nose. They gave the baby blood and oxygen but the baby died. They have however given me a bill of Ghc1,200 to pay. I have Health Insurance but it doesn’t work. I came from Begoro. I am now stranded”.

“My bill given to me is also Ghc1,000, they gave my baby oxygen. I came from Kyebi, I am stranded” another stranded new mother narrated.

Lastly, a new mother from Suhum also added “For me it is my bill that I am unable to pay. I have been detained. I have paid some but left with Ghc1,000. I came from Suhum I don’t have anyone to help me”

The economic hardship being experienced in Ghana has impoverished many lower class people. This has resulted in many of such people struggling to meet basic life necessities such as payment of medical bills.

Their plights have been worsened by the disfunction of the National Health Insurance scheme due to failure by the authority to reimburse health service providers.

The situation is fueling high cases of nonpayment of medical bills, revenue losses due to abscondment at many hospitals.

The Eastern Regional hospital for instance, continues to make huge revenue losses to absconders every year.

The hospital for instance, loss GH¢103,476 from about 75 patients who absconded after inability to pay their medical bills in 2022.

In 2017 and 2018, losses made to patients who either absconded or could not pay their medical bills due to poverty amounted to almost Ghc350,000

According to the Hospital, “in 2018 about 20 patients sneaked out of their sick beds and absconded with total medical bills of Ghc11,080 while in 2017, 52 patients also absconded at the blind side of the Hospital Authorities with total medical bills of Ghc23,000.”

Management of the hospital has instituted social welfare services for the poor and vulnerable who genuinely cannot pay their bills to sign undertaking for payment in installments.

In 2018, the Hospital wrote off medical debt of 13 patients identified to be paupers to the tune of Ghc19,000 after Department of Social Welfare had done background checks to established their financial status.

Source: Ghana/ Ansah