Bolgatanga — About 17 parents and caretakers absconded with their children on admission at the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital in the Upper East Region within the past six months.
This is because they had no valid National Health Insurance Scheme card and could not foot their hospital bills, the Head of the Pediatric Department of the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital, Mr Mark Anthony Azongo, has disclosed.
He made the disclosure in Bolgatanga last Friday, during the launching of a "Needy Child Fund" which formed part of activities marking this year's Child Open Day celebration,
He said the bill amounted to GH¢5,864.00.
"The number of parents with sick children that are referred from the department to the next level of management and cannot afford the cost of higher medical care continue to be on the rise. Sadly, ladies and gentlemen, we lost three of such innocent children in the last quarter through no fault of their parents who cannot afford the cost of health care," Mr Azongo stressed.
The Head of the Pediatric Unit revealed that the department had resorted to using commercial saloon cars with their own oxygen to transport sick children whose families could not afford the cost of ambulance to Tamale, adding that this reduced the cost of transportation from GH¢1000.00 and above to below GH¢250.00, which most parents still could not afford.
He indicated that the decision of the Board and Management of the Regional Hospital to launch the "Needy Child Fund" as part of this year's Child Open Day Celebration was to support sick children on admission whose families could not afford their medical bills.
Mr Azongo noted that despite the numerous challenges confronting the unit, admission continued to increase while death continues to decrease with 1.63 per cent in half-year of 2018 to 1.47 per cent in half-year of 2019.
Whilst acknowledging the contributions of some institutions and individuals such as the Bank of Africa, Fountain Gate Chapel, various societies in the Catholic Church, among others, he promised that transparency and accountability would be ensured in the usage of the fund to meet the intended needy children.
The Medical Director of the Regional Hospital, Dr Patrick Atobrah, disclosed that between eight and nine out of 10 people who were not insured found it difficult to afford their medical bills.
According to the Medical Director, the most affected were children and explained that the fund would help save lives of the needy children.
The Regional Minister, Ms Paulina Patience Abayage, pledged an amount of GH¢10,000.00 to the Fund and emphasized the need for all stakeholders to contribute towards the fund to help improve upon quality of health care services and attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).