Nigerians nowadays pay more for health care services in both private and public health facilities in the country, findings by our correspondent have shown.
Many hospital owners, doctors, pharmacists and patients, who spoke to our correspondent on Tuesday, however, linked the development to the recession currently hitting the country.
For instance, they noted that the fees for major surgeries as well as prices of drugs in many hospitals, especially the privately-owned ones, had increased significantly.
The Medical Director, Light Heart Hospital, Ilorin, Kwara State, Dr. Segun Adeniran, who confirmed the increment, said the cost of the medical consumables had gone up.
Besides, the overhead cost of running the health facility, Adeniran noted, had doubled with the inflation and recent hike in fuel prices.
The physician added, “We used to charge N100,000 for emergency Caesarean Section but it is now N150,000. I was shocked when I travelled to Lagos the other day to buy some consumables for the hospital and I found out that their prices had changed. In fact, I could only buy half of what I needed. It was that bad.
“Even the doctor that assists me with the surgery has asked for an increment. The price of the anaesthesia for patients during surgeries has shot up. It is either I increase the price or I shut down my facility.”
Another doctor, Ahmed Jubril, said he “adjusted” the fees he charged at his Ikorodu, Lagos clinic, in line with the current economic reality in the country.
Jubril added that with the recession in the country, many hospitals owners would find it difficult bear the cost of providing services to the public.
Asked if this could scare patients from his hospital, Jubril said although it was a painful decision to increase his fees, he did so to keep his facility afloat.
He explained, “I spend an average of N200,000 buying fuel each month. It used to be N100,000. You must turn on the generator for patients because if anything happens while they are on admission, you can be found liable.
“This is aside from the cost of maintaining the laboratory equipment and buying consumables. Right now, I owe the pharmacist that supplies drugs to my hospital. So, if a patient comes to treat cerebral malaria, I should bear the cost of the injections and drugs that have gone up. People must remember that doctors also live in Nigeria not Mars.”
A doctor at the Gbagada General Hospital, Lagos, who spoke to our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said that although there was no official increment in charges at the centre, the prices of many procedures had increased by, at least, 15 per cent .
He noted that the fees at the hospital and other health facilities in the state would have been higher but for the “Internally Generated Revenue initiatives that they had inaugurated.
A pharmacist with a retail outlet in Ikeja, Mr. Segun Adetiba, told our correspondent that his colleagues had suffered the effect of the ongoing economic recession more.
According to Adetiba, the cost of drugs may force many of them out of the business.
He stated, “The prices of drugs are rising. Many are even scarce because the importers can’t get enough foreign exchange to bring them in regularly anymore. We do not manufacture many of the medicines we sell in this country.
“Patients are complaining bitterly and we can’t help them. Some can’t even pay, as they beg you to take N200 for N500 for antimalarials. Pharmacists are really affected because while a doctor can deliver a woman of a baby with just his/her skill, a pharmacist cannot just dispense his drugs.”