The Women Advocates Research and Documentation Centre (WARDC) has written to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) requesting for details on the number of women currently detained by the hospital for their inability to offset bills relating to pregnancy and child birth, after being certified fit for discharge.
The letter addressed to the Acting Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode, and made privy to National Mirror, states that WARDC is entitled to request for information on the number of women in the custody or that are being illegally detained by any public agency or institution under the section 1 (1) of Freedom of Information Act 2011. Based on this privilege, WARDC has demanded that the information be made available within 7-days of the receipt of the letter, after which the association will consider legal action.
WARDC Director, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, in the letter explained that WARDC, a women’s right nongovernmental organization, is concerns about the worsening rate of maternal mortality in Nigeria, which is one of the highest ratios globally. “The main cause of maternal mortality suffered by the vulnerable sectors of the population is the lack of access of pregnant women to adequate, affordable and accessible healthcare services. With a maternal mortality rate of 645 per 100,000 live births against the Millennium Development Goal target of 250 per 100,000 live births. Factors like high user fees and the consequent detention for failure to offset medical bills will further push Nigeria far away from achieving the MDG target. Furthermore a large number of women and their families come from an economic and social background where they are not able to afford these bills”, she said.
According to her, the situation constitutes a violation of the human rights such as the right to life, the right to health, right to liberty and freedom and the prohibition of torture and inhuman treatment, guaranteed by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which Nigeria has ratified and incorporated as national law through the Ratification and Enforcement Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. By this action, The WARDC said it is also protesting the death of Mrs Folake Oduyoye, one of the women who died from pregnancy- related cause, after being detained and neglected at LUTH for non-payment of medical bills