Management of Awo-Omama General Hospital in Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State has been accused of allegedly extorting money from HIV patients for the anti-retroviral drugs.
A coordinator of the Support Group, Awo-Omamma General Hospital for People Living with HIV (PLWHIV), Mrs. Colette Beneath told Daily Trust in her office yesterday that the sharp practices by the hospital management have led to the death of many patients who cannot afford the money to buy the drugs.
Mrs. Beneath expressed surprise over how the HIV anti-retroviral drugs being supplied to all hospitals across the state from Awka in Anambra State free of charge for patients should be sold. She added that the hospital is the only place in the state that indulged in the negative practice.
She said that the ugly practice which started in March last year during the Governor Ikedi Ohakim administration in the state has continued in this present dispensation, adding that effort to stop the anomaly failed as the management refused to listen to complaint made.
She said the extortion carried out by the pharmacist unit under the order of the management started with N200 before and have graduated to N500, N1,000, N1,500 per patient and that any that did not give the money would be denied of the drugs meant to be free.
Mrs. Beneath who is also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Communal Care Centre, an NGO based in Oguta that cares for HIV patients and orphans, regretted that one of the donor agencies, Family Health International (FHI) had intervened to stop the practices but to no avail.
She said that she has equally made formal complaints to the state coordinator of State Agency for Control of (AIDS) for actions.
She said that the extortion has led to the drastic reduction of the large number of patients who visit the hospital for the anti-retroviral treatment (ART) as majority do not visit the place while those who could not afford the money are gradually dying.
The Monitoring and Evaluation Officer (MEO) of the hospital, Mrs. Cecilia Eke confirms the extortion but blamed on shortage of drugs in the place.
But the Chief consultant of the hospital Dr. Okey Madu said that he is barely one month at the hospital, newly transferred from Aboh Mbaise General Hospital and has not yet being handed over by the out gone chief consultant.
As at the time our correspondent visited the hospital, only few patients were seen lined up waiting to be administered with the anti-retroviral drugs.
Source: Daily Trust.