By Becky John
Some mothers in Lagos on Wednesday lamented that they were being made to bear the costs of some consumables during the routine immunisation schedules of their babies. They told news men in separate interviews that bearing the burden of the cost, no matter how little, had added to their financial stress. Others said that they could not continually afford the cost of buying some of the consumables if indeed the immunisation was supposed to be free. News men who visited some immunisation centres in Lagos observed that each mother was asked to buy gloves and absorbent changing pad to be used on her baby before weighing.
Some of the hospitals visited were the Primary Health Centre, Akerele, Surulere; Primary Health Centre, Jakande Estate, Isolo, and the Primary Health Centre, Oki, Alaguntan area of Alimosho. A report confirmed that a pair of glove cost N50 while the absorbent changing pad cost N200.
A petty trader, Mrs Deborah Ojo, said that the extra cost on consumables was not favourable.
“Pregnancy and infancy are very delicate stages. I understand the fact that I have to immunise my child against some childhood killer diseases.
“I was also made to understand that routine immunisation is supposed to be free for children aged 12 years below that is why I have come to the Primary Healthcare Centre.
“ On getting here, I was told to buy the glove to be used by the health workers to administer vaccine on my child. The glove cost N50 here.
“I also came with paper or light receiving blanket for my baby to be weighed, but the attendant at the weighing scale table insists that I must buy their own absorbent changing pad.
“Though, she took time to explain the benefits to me, but it should not be compulsory.
“What matters should be if you have a cover to put on the scale before your child is weighed,’’ she said.
Also, Mrs Toyin Olukoya, a housewife, said that she paid N250 to collect a pair of gloves and an absorbent changing pad at Akerele Primary Health Centre.
She said: “It is customary here for parents to provide gloves to be used whenever the health worker is administering the vaccine on your baby.
“At a point, we have to go and purchase the needles for the vaccination, especially for BCG, but that was some years ago.
“The absorbent changing mat is gradually becoming compulsory in this facility.
“We were told that they have phased out the use of newspapers or brown papers on weigh scales before a baby is weighed.
“The changing mat is reusable, but then, the truth is that it will eventually spoil. To me, N200 is quite expensive for it,’’ she said.
Another mother, Mrs Sheri Rasheed, a housewife, said, “I have come here to immunise my nine months old baby.
“I came to weigh the child and wanted to use paper to put on the scale so that my child can be weighed, but I was not allowed to do so.
“I was told to buy the changing pad. The woman at the table said it was for safety and hygiene reasons.
“She said the changing pad is N200. It is a lot of money to me. I was compelled to pay for it. I feel it should be optional.
“But, why must it be that particular changing pad? Is it that brown paper or newspaper, or even the receiving blanket cannot be used on the scale before my baby is weighed?’’ she asked.
At the Primary Health Centre, Jakande Estate, Isolo, Mrs Ramat Olukoya, said: “I usually collect some money from my husband for some miscellaneous expenses on immunisation day at the centre.
“For instance, I have to buy the gloves that the nurse or health worker will use when immunising my baby. It is the mothers that bear the cost. It was not like this before,’’ Olukoya said.
Reacting to the development, an official at the Akerele Primary Health Centre, who pleaded anonymity, said that the centre had to device a way to effectively attend to mothers and children.
“The state government is doing a lot to ensure that there is an effective healthcare service in the area of maternal and child care.
“However, while we have the vaccines and needles, we do not have some disposable consumables like the gloves to cater for everyone here.
“To protect ourselves and the children, we have to use a pair of gloves for each child, so the mothers have to buy them.
“If we have enough, we will not request the mothers to purchase them.
“On the changing pad or mat, it is cleaner, safer and protects the child’s skin from skin infections that may be caught by using public weigh scales like this.
“The management of this centre insists that this one must be used. As for the cost, the woman selling it put the cost since it is her business,’’ the official said.