By Gboyega Akosile
“My husband did not want me admitted initially because of the cost. But we were told the care is completely free. We didn’t believe it until I started getting treatment without anyone asking us to pay a dime,” were the words of a 37-year-old expectant mother, Omowunmi Odeyemi, to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State when he paid a surprise visit to Island Maternity Hospital, Lagos Island on Sunday.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, who had earlier rolled out a health palliative, along with other relief measures such as 50% reduction in the cost of public transportation, to cushion the hardship being experienced by residents as a result of fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government, paid an unannounced visit to the hospital on Sunday night. The governor’s health palliative covers the cost of normal pregnancy delivery, Caesarean section and antenatal care in state-owned hospitals.
In Sanwo-Olu’s words during the surprise visit, “I need to see things for myself to know where our intervention is specifically and generally needed”.
The story of Odeyemi, which is that of one out of a thousand pregnant women in Lagos, is that of a lost hope renewed by Governor Sanwo-Olu. The lost hope of the pregnant woman and her husband was rekindled by the Governor’s timely intervention, her narration revealed.
Weeks ahead of Odeyemi’s scheduled delivery, the expectant mother was compelled to take admissions due to her unstable blood pressure — the condition that led to two previous miscarriages. However, footing the hospital bill became the stumbling block as the expectant mother and her husband could not afford to pay the bills for a prolonged admission at the hospital.
The fear and uncertainty of the couple were erased by the news that Governor Sanwo-Olu, under the health palliative scheme, had covered the medical expenses of all pregnant women using state-owned hospitals.
Resting their hopes on Governor Sanwo-Olu’s health palliative, Lagosians will never need to break the bank for normal pregnancy deliveries, Caesarean sections and antenatal care.
A beneficiary of Governor Sanwo-Olu’s free antenatal and caesarean section at the Ifako-Ijaiye General Hospital, Yemisi Agboola could not curtail her joy as he thanked the Governor for the palliative in the health sector, which made her enjoy free medical care at the hospital.
Agboola, the mother of a healthy set of twin babies said, “I did my antenatal here and I delivered through Caesarean section and I was informed that the Lagos State Government had settled my bills. I want to use this medium to appreciate the Lagos State Governor for this initiative and I pray that God bless him and God bless Lagos State.”
Another beneficiary, Motunrayo, said Governor Sanwo-Olu’s palliative took away the financial burden that would have been on her.
Her words, “I am a beneficiary of what the Lagos State Government has done. I had my baby through Caesarean section on Monday and I am so grateful and very joyous when I found out that it has already been paid for. I want to thank the government and the medical practitioners here; they were so helpful. It is soothing that the financial burden has been taken off by the government.”
Suliat Adeniji, who was all smiles and radiated the joy of motherhood, started her antenatal in March 2023 at Ayinke Hospital, Ikeja, but was transferred to Ifako-Ijaiye General Hospital to continue her journey to motherhood.
Adeniji, who was visibly happy, while speaking on the good gesture of Governor Sanwo-Olu, expressed the shock she got when she was notified that her medical bills had been settled by the Lagos State Government.
Narrating her experience, she said, “A few weeks ago, I had an issue with my blood pressure – it was dwindling. So, I had to rush down there. There was a strike but they said they would attend to me because I was a booked patient there. They have started the treatment but it (keeps) going up and down so my consultant said they had to deliver the baby for it not to affect both mother and child.
“I was brought to Ifako-Ijaiye General Hospital. When we got here, we approached the Finance Department to pay for the services but they declined and started the necessary treatment. On behalf of my family, I thank the Lagos State Government, Governor Sanwo-Olu and the hospital management for the gesture. We really appreciate it.”
Akosile is the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.