The Ministry of Health has vowed to clamp down on the activities of health workers at the various hospitals who exploit pregnant women who access antenatal care.
According the Ministry, such perpetrators will not escape punishment when found to have been culpable in such unethical behaviors.
The Ministry of Health’s threat comes on the heels of an investigative work by Kasapa FM’s Francisca Emefa Enchill which revealed that there were rot in some health institutions that put impediments in the way of the poor pregnant women who seek healthcare.
Her work took her to the Kaneshie Polyclinic, La General Hospital, formerly La Polyclinic, and Amanfrom Health Centre, located near Kasoa in the Central Region which are patronized by mainly poor women.
Though the Ghana Health Service has made antenatal service is free of charge it was established that the health centres were engaged in extortion in the form of charging illegal fees without receipts.
On a first visit to the antenatal unit of this health centre, the health centre would issue a maternal health record book, which is a nine-page photocopy of the original red coloured record book stapled together.
Just a handful of patients visiting this health centre are given the original book for GH¢ 6.00, while majority of the pregnant patients are given the photocopies for GH¢ 5.00, the excuse being that the centre had run out of the original book.
After paying for these books, pregnant women go to a health worker who sits at a table to check vitals. After checking the vitals, the pregnant women are asked to drop GH¢ 1.00 into a cardboard box placed on the table without any reason given to them.
“Put GH¢ 1.00 in the box” is all they say to the patients. They are then asked to buy plastic containers to get urine samples for GH¢ 1.00. At least with the Amanfrom Health Centre, washrooms are not paid for.
The patients then go to the consultation room, where they pay another GH¢ 1.00 for the paper stick test kit to be used to run a test on the urine samples. A blood test on hemoglobin and HIV AIDS is run on each patient using test kits and then they are asked to pay GH¢ 10.00 for those tests.
Speaking to Kasapa FM, the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Health, Robert Cudjoe said the Ministry takes a serious view of the infractions and will deal with the situation immediately.
”These nation wreckers will be dealt with ruthlessly when they’re found out because they can not continue to go against the laid down regulations set by government. If certain services have been made free of charge to lessen the burden on patients, no health worker has the power to charge fees. The Ministry will crack the whip against anybody found culpable, such actions will not be countenanced.”