Nanka (Anambra) – The Association of People Living with Sickle Cell Disorder has demanded the release of its members allegedly detained in some hospitals in Anambra over unpaid medical bills.
Mrs Aisha Edward, the National Coordinator of the group, made the demand on Thursday at a news conference in Nanka, Orumba North Local Government Area of the state.
Edward said that seven members of the association were currently being detained in different mission hospitals in the state over their inability to pay their bills.
The national coordinator however, declined to name the hospitals but described the action of the hospitals as “illegal, inhuman and wicked.”
She said: “People have taken undue advantage of people living with sickle cell anaemia for too long but we will not tolerate this latest discovery.
“I visited a hospital in Aguata area to see one of our members, who was on admission.
“There, I found out that three of our members were being detained because of huge hospital bills they incurred.
“I am surprised that this could be happening in Anambra and this has made me ask more questions.
“I further discovered that another hospital in Onitsha has as much as four of our members, who were also being detained.
“These are just the ones we know. There may be many others who are still being held in other hospitals,” Edward said.
She appealed to the hospitals involved to immediately discharge the patients “because of their health condition.”
She also appealed to the state government to intervene in securing the release of the affected patients.
“We are giving them from now to December 1 to immediately discharge the patients,” Edward said.
She threatened that the association would be compelled to publish the names of the hospitals and also institute legal action against them.
“These mission hospitals owned by churches have been infiltrated by corrupt-minded people, who now defraud vulnerable people in society because of their health condition.
“We will not let this happen because the church, not only the judiciary, is the last hope of the common man,” Edward said.
Speaking further, she said that one of the patients had a N1.2 million bill for sickle cell treatment.
“They were even warned not to try to escape as the consequences would be severe,” she said.
Edward expressed concern that the sickle cell patients stood the risk of contracting more diseases in the hospital, “while waiting endlessly for philanthropists.”
According to her, some of these patients have been detained for over six months, while a girl, who was the longest detained patient, had stayed for one year and four months. (NAN)