A 39-YEAR-OLD Darwendale woman, Samia Mbewe, and her newly-born daughter have reportedly been detained at Banket District Hospital for close to two weeks over unpaid maternity services, NewsDay has learnt.
BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
Mbewe’s husband, Fortunate Chikware, confirmed the development yesterday, saying officials at the hospital were demanding full payment of $196 or at least $70 before his wife could be released.
“My wife gave birth on December 21 last year through a Caesarean section, but we were totally surprised when the authorities refused to discharge her demanding full payment of the bill,” Chikware, who has since set up a makeshift camp outside the hospital to be close to his family, said.
Government policy prohibits detention of patients over non-payment of bills.
“I’m not working and it is very difficult to come up with such a huge amount. I tried all I could to raise the money, but it was not possible,” he said, adding the matter was now being handled by local health pressure group, Citizens Health Watch (CHW).
“I do not know what to do now. This organisation (CHW) tried to help us, but my wife is still in hospital with our new daughter.”
CHW trustee, Fungisayi Dube confirmed that the organisation had intervened and urged the hospital authorities to release the woman without further delay.
“We received a phone call from a concerned citizen, who told us about the family’s predicament. We went there and spoke to both the family and hospital authorities,” she said.
Efforts to get in touch with the hospital officials were fruitless.
Last year, the issue of detaining pregnant or lactating women generated heated debate in Parliament, with legislators describing the practice as inhuman.