By Joseph Erunke – Abuja
President, Guild of Medical Directors, GMD, Professor Olufemi Babalola, has expressed fear that the cost of healthcare in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, may become out of reach of average people given what he termed as “multiple taxation and levies” being arbitrarily imposed on private hospitals the Federal Capital Administration.
Babalola, who cried out that hospitals were financially crippled by the COVID-19 pandemic, said if the demands by the Abuja Municipal Area Council, AMAC, was not addressed, persons who prefer private hospitals may no longer be able to afford treatment.
In a statement he titled,” AMAC Rewards Doctors with Extortion”, Babalola said the “ridiculous” multiple taxes and levies being imposed on private hospitals in Abuja, would lead to closure of some facilities or cause an increase in health care charges.
While regretting that the extortion was due to a wrong assumption that private hospitals made a lot of money during the pandemic, he lambasted AMAC for showing total disregard for the issues faces by the sector in this critical time, which has forced many private hospitals to close down.
In his words: “Private hospitals in Abuja who have been suffering under the brunt of the economic woes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic are again under siege from the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC).
“The area council has recently unleashed its officials and agents to harass hospital owners for exorbitant and frankly ridiculous multiple taxes/levies for things such as tenement rates, fumigation license, TV/Radio license and other bogus charges.
“We are witnessing a desperate effort to collect money in a way we have never seen before. How can a hospital be asked to paid a bill of over N500,000 for TV/Radio license and N100, 000 for fumigation?
“We have only started reopening after the problems related to the Coronavirus and this is the time the council decide to reward private hospitals with extortion.
“The amounts of money being demanded from hospitals in these current economic realities will definitely force many to close or pass on the money to needy patients. Countless meetings and decisions about these multiple taxes have not yielded any sensible resolutions.
“Many hospitals have already shut down under the weight of this pandemic. Some may not even bother to open again with this kind of coldhearted revenue drive. We honestly cannot afford for more hospitals to close at this critical time. Majority of the private hospitals in FCT serve the citizens in the suburbs where there is limited access to care.
“The public is hereby put on notice that this behaviour will affect the cost of care in Abuja and make healthcare unaffordable for many. The general public must take the matter up with the Chairman of the area council as we are tired of banging our heads on walls in frustration.
Soon, we will not be able to provide care for the majority of people in Abuja and its environs if the council does not see sense. We thereby call on the Honorable Minister of Health and well-meaning Nigerians to call the council to order.”