A health system that does not cater for the poor

Ousman Sillah

A widow, whose husband died recently at the hospital after a brief illness, explained the harrowing experience she went through within the health service system during the final moments of her spouse’s life.

The grieving lady explained how her husband collapsed in their house on Monday, 23 March, and was rushed to the hospital in Bundung where she was given prescription which was not available at the hospital. She had to buy medicine from a private pharmacy near Senegambia where she paid D850. She said her husband’s blood sample was taken and a lab test conducted. “They told me that he lacks blood and that the prescribed drugs would make him better and was later referred to Banjul to the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital,” she said.

While at the hospital in Banjul, she explained that she was asked to do another lab test which costs D300. She said she was also asked to conduct x-ray of the head and paid D300. “After this x-ray, they asked me to buy drugs which cost more than one thousand five hundred (D1500) which I did. They also asked me to do another lab test for him again at D300,” she narrated.

In short, she spent a total of D3350 of their hard earned money to cure a loved one. She showed receipts for these expenses.

She said she was asked to go and buy pudding (‘ruye’ or ‘mono’). On her return with the food, she said, she saw the bed on which her husband was admitted screened and that she found him wrapped. Her husband had passed away in spite of dipping her hand in her pocket to scrape the last butut to save him.

The provision of accessible, caring and affordable health care, especially in situations of emergency, should be a priority in national health delivery system if the avoidable and agonising experiences of this nature are to be avoided.