Antenatal Fee Hike: Ondo Pregnant Women Return to TBAs

Last week, some pregnant women, numbering over 100 stormed the premises of the Ondo State Specialists Hospital in Akure, the state capital to protest against the alleged hike in the cost of antenatal services and some other miscellaneous expenses at the state-owned hospital.

Specifically, they alleged that the antenatal registration fee which used to be N1,000 had, according to them, been increased to N4,000. They explained that they paid N500 for every antenatal appointment while N25,000 had allegedly been fixed by the management of the hospital for a normal delivery of a baby. They also said the management acted on the order of the state government.

The protesters, who were visibly angry over the alleged increment, were chanting anti-government songs while some of them were cursing whoever was responsible for the increment in the government. They disrupted the activities at the hospital for several hours and went ahead to make comparison between the immediate past administration of Dr. Olusegun Mimiko and the current regime of Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu in the area of health care delivery system.

They complained that the last administration made primary and secondary health care services free and affordable for pregnant women and the children under the age of five. They said the current government has monetised the system beyond the reach of many people in the state and has thus sent them back to the old ways of patronising Traditional Birth attendants popularly called alagboor eleweomo.

To this end, the TBAs who were proscribed by the immediate past government seem to have been resuscitated because according to an investigation, a few days after the protest, the patronage at Traditional Birth Attendants and mission houses of some churches in the state increased as some pregnant women were sighted at the TBAs places in the quest for medical treatment. This has raised the fear of likely increase in maternal mortality rate in the state unless the government takes proactive measure against it.

It would be recalled that during the immediate past administration, some policies were made in the health sector  called Safe Motherhood projects which had led to the creation of Mother and Child Hospitals in Akure and Ondo towns among others for expectant mothers.

One of the components of the safe motherhood projects was the ‘Agbebiye’ which entailed the TBAs referring  pregnant women to the state hospital or government medical centres for proper medical attention of qualified medical professionals and specialists.

The Agbebiye project was said to have further reduced maternal mortality rate and also generated revenue for the TBAs across the 18 local government areas of the state as they were paid certain amount of money for each pregnant woman they referred. It was a matter of the more they referred, the more money they got.

The projects, as a matter fact had won Mimiko administration many accolades in and outside the country.

However, it was discovered that the safe motherhood programmes had been discontinued by the present administration.

A top state government functionary told our correspondent that it was impossible for the current administration in the state to continue with Agbebiye programme due to paucity of funds and

consequently the money to the TBAs had stopped.

He said, “The current economic reality on ground does not support the government to continue with the programme, that is why it has to be stopped but alternatively, the government still makes the antenatal care affordable.”

During a visit to a TBA centre in Akure, a number of pregnant women were seen at a big room waiting to see the ‘doctor’ but many of them were not willing to speak with our correspondent.



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