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FG turns down hike in federal hospital bills

The Federal Government has rejected the ongoing lobby by tertiary health institutions to increase treatment fees.

Chief medical directors across the country had recently disclosed plans to lobby the Federal Government for increase in hospital treatment charges.

The CMDs hinged their reasons for the demand on inflation.

But the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, in an interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, disclosed that he had not received any formal letter on the demand from the CMDs.

Adewale, who acknowledged the high cost of medical equipment, said he might not grant the request.

He insisted that the poor and vulnerable in the society must be catered for not minding the rising cost of medical equipment.

He said, “They don’t have to lobby the Federal Government for increment. Ideally if they have a board, they will write to us and when they write to us, we look into it.

“For now, there is no policy yet; the only thing we are doing is to say those who cannot pay, we will find a way to support them. But people must pay for treatment, we are running cost recovery. But those who cannot pay, we will help them.

“I may not grant their request. You know I am a pro-poor person and that’s why we have been doing the RRI (Rapid Results Initiative) to get treatment to the poor and the vulnerable. Those who can pay must pay. No atmosphere for free treatment.

“We will take care of those who can’t afford to pay. But when those who can pay, escape payment, then, we are in trouble.”

On the letter of demand from the CMDs, Adewale said, “I can’t tell you; I’ve not seen their letter. I will have to ask the permanent secretary.”

He said that it would be difficult to convince Nigerians to pay more for medical services when the Federal Government was clamouring for Universal Health Coverage.

“Universal Health Coverage does not mean free treatment. It means that you do not need to suffer financial injury if you go for care. It didn’t say free treatment.

“There are ways to take care of that, either through insurance or government is subsidising it through tax. Somebody must pay, the primary healthcare principally is to take care of the common thing so that we can free the tertiary centres.”

The Chairman of Committee of Chief Executives of Tertiary Health Institutions, Prof. Thomas Agan, told SUNDAY PUNCH that teaching hospitals would not take any drastic decision if the Federal Government failed to accede to their request for increase in medical treatment fee.

In an interview on Friday, Agan said he would prefer to comment on the extent of lobby after the 2017 budget had been passed by the National Assembly.

He, however, said that if the Federal Government in the interim failed to accede to their lobby, they would abide by the rate.

Agan said, “We will continue to manage the way we have been managing because we provide social services in the health institutions. We cannot do anything contrary.”

Agan had during his initial argument said, “There is no way the rate of treatment will not increase otherwise the hospitals will break down completely. For me, we have not even increased rates but we are trying to lobby the Federal Ministry of Health to see to the possibility of increasing the cost of treatment.”


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