FOUR-YEAR-OLD, Sophia (not real name) had been complaining of cold for about two days but her father gave her Paracetamol tablets expecting the fever to subside.

When her condition grew worse,  he took her to the hospital and she was admitted to the pediatric unit of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, (LUTH).

After diagnosis,  he was told his daughter had an infection and would need blood transfusion immediately.

The news was a big blow to Sheriff Atoyebi, Sophia’s father.  His wife who was involved in an accident several months earlier, and was also admitted in the Accident and Emergency ward of LUTH, and the outstanding financial bills were yet to be completely paid. And now, his daughter.

The poor girl has been lying in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) without medical attention given to her because he couldn’t pay the bill.

“It has been tough getting money to pay for the prescribed drugs because they are very expensive. I was recently laid off the engineering firm where I worked, attending to my wife in the hospital and taking care of the children have been physically exhausting and financially demanding,” he said to The ICIR.

Before he was laid off, Atoyebi worked for  Cobel Contracting Ltd, a construction engineering firm based in Victoria Island, Lagos. As a staff, he was compulsorily enrolled by the firm on the National Health Insurance Scheme, choosing UCH as his Health Management Office. The insurance scheme took care of the medical expenses of his family while he worked with the firm but when he lost the job his family was stripped off of all the benefits of the program.

Atoyebi eventually decided to take Sophia out of the hospital so that he could care for her at home.  He would buy over-the-counter drugs from a local drug store where drugs are sold cheaper. Read more

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