(Business in Cameroon) - Indigent patients will no longer be kept against their will in public hospitals when they fail to pay their care bills. “I have the honor to prohibit, as from the date of signature of this letter, the confinement of indigent patients in public health facilities,” said the health minister, Malachie Manaouda, in a letter sent March 14 to the heads of public health facilities in Cameroon.
Mr. Manaouda said he noted, during visits, that patients were being kept by force for failure to pay their hospitalization and care bills in total. “I would ask you to liberate all patients who may be held in your respective health facilities due to failure to pay bills, and let me know the costs involved,” the official said.
Pending the effective implementation of universal health coverage, he urges his collaborators in public hospitals to propose better adapted and less degrading solutions for the care of indigent patients as soon as possible. Similarly, the managers of public health facilities will now have to conduct, in conjunction with the competent services, social surveys to determine the indigence status of insolvent patients.
This is a new era in Cameroon's public hospitals. Because, we regularly see in the media, patients kept by force because they are unable to pay for their care. Sometimes they are poor mothers who have no money to pay for their childbirth expenses.