By Bukola Adebayo
Pregnant and nursing mothers in Nigeria are angry with the Federal Government. They are not happy that public hospitals have increased the cost of caesarian section (CS) operation. The women fear that if government fails to urgently subsidise the cost, infant and maternal death rates will worsen.
Before the sudden increase, expectant mothers in need of caesarian section in public hospitals paid between N60,000 and N75,000. But the cost is now between N150,000 and N200,000, a rate that, some stakeholders say, is too high, especially for low-income earners.
At some private hospitals, women in need of the operation are charged between N300,000 and N1million. The hike, some women argue, is tantamount to a declaration of war against pregnant women.
Experts, including a Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Benin, Edo State, Friday Okonofua, are also calling on governments at all levels to subsidise CS operation for women.
Another gynaecologist, Dr. Samuel Adebayo, describes a CS as an abdominal surgery performed on a woman by cutting through her abdomen and the womb to deliver the baby.
Adebayo says, “Babies can be born through the vagina or the abdomen. But a Caesarian section is performed if a woman has complications related to labour. Also, if she has had the procedure about two or three times before, doctors won’t let her go into labour. If the baby is not breathing and there is foetal distress, we do it to save the baby; we do same when the expectant mother is going to have multiple babies or a premature baby. Again, when the placenta is blocking the womb, if we do not do a CS for the mother, she may bleed to death.”
Adebayo also notes that a caesarian delivery can be an emergency or planned, depending on how early a pregnant woman has been diagnosed to need the procedure.
However, mothers who spoke with our correspondent in various hospitals in Lagos and Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, express regret that government appears to be paying lip service to saving their lives during delivery, going by the cost of accessing Caesarian deliveries in public hospitals. In various interviews with our correspondent, they note that the government that is supposed to protect their lives and those of their babies is promoting a policy that constitutes a threat to safety during delivery. They say the cost of Caesarian section in government hospitals is beyond their reach when they need it.
According to them, the amount being charged for the operation in the state and federal teaching hospitals is so high that only the rich can afford it.
Their claims may not be far from the truth, as investigations conducted by our correspondent in some hospitals confirmed the sudden increase in the cost of Caesarian delivery. For example, at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi Araba, pregnant women who used to pay N75,000 now spend at least N150,000 for the total cost of the procedure.