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Obio Cottage Hospital Faces Allegations of Charging for Essential Vaccines

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Tuesday, 8 August 2023 08:19

By Chioma Ezenwafor & Martha Okere-Nkem

A startling revelation has emerged as Obio Cottage Hospital in Port Harcourt comes under scrutiny overallegations of charging for vital vaccines meant to be administered for free.

The claims center on infant vaccines and tetanus shots for expectant mothers, essential safeguards for community health, allegedly being sold for prices ranging from N1,200 to N13,000.

The controversy unfolded within the confines of a WhatsApp group linked to the Community Health Insurance Scheme of Obio Cottage Hospital.

Troublingly, inquiries posed by concerned mothers and pregnant women regarding the unexpected fees for ostensibly free vaccines were met with an unsettling response – the vaccines were purportedly unavailable.

Screenshots from the group show an announcement with the hospital's logo that read: "Esteemed clients, please be notified that all the immunization vaccines are available. However, if your child needs Rotavirus, you will pay for it. Thank you."

Adding to the intrigue, a self-proclaimed veteran hospital staff member, boasting 13 years of service, divulged that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had halted vaccine provisions to Nigeria during the pre and post-election periods.


This circumstance ostensibly led the hospital to redirect patients to alternative health centers.

Remarkably, the same staff member alleged that the community's appeals prompted the hospital to initiate vaccine sales instead of referrals.

As we pursued clarity, the Obio Cottage Hospital's management declined to comment immediately but indicated the release of an official statement.

Rivers State Government Weighs In

Dr. Joseph Urang, the Rivers State Immunisation Officer, in a conflicting stance, asserted that infant vaccines were, indeed, free.

He acknowledged the prioritization of high-traffic healthcare facilities, such as the Obio Cottage Hospital, during instances of vaccine supply delays.

Dr. Urang underscored the gravity of the situation, warning against any health institution selling complimentary vaccines.

Notably, he assured that all healthcare facilities across the state are adequately stocked with vaccines, including the Rotavirus vaccine, designed for children aged six months, and dispensed at no cost.

Despite the allegations, two mothers who frequent Obio Cottage Hospital attested to never having paid for vaccines at the facility, further deepening the puzzle.

Obio Cottage Hospital functions as a cornerstone of the Obio Community Health Insurance Scheme, an initiative nurtured in partnership with Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria and four Obio communities, in alliance with the Rivers State Government.

The scheme aspires to extend accessible healthcare and foster community well-being.

As this disconcerting saga continues to unravel, it casts a formidable shadow over the principles of healthcare accessibility.

The allegations pose significant questions about the hospital's integrity and its commitment to community health.

The implications of the claims on the lives of those reliant on Obio Cottage Hospital's services hang in the balance, emphasizing the critical need for transparency and accountability.


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