AKWA Ibom State government is yet to pay the outstanding N100 million medical bills accumulated by patients, who received treatment in private hospitals after a church building collapsed in Uyo on December 10, 2016, Health Commissioner Dr. Dominic Ukpong has said.
The commissioner, who spoke in Eket, said the governor had paid N200 million in medical bills and was still trying to raise money to pay the outstanding N100 million.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the incident, which claimed 30 lives, occurred during the bishopric enthronement of the founder of Reigners’ Bible Church, Apostle Akan Weeks.
Ukpong described the incident as unfortunate, adding, however that nobody should blame the governor.
“In December 2016, there was an unfortunate incident where a church collapsed and killed many people.
“When the church collapsed, 18 people died on the spot and 12 died outside,” he said.
Ukpong said patients, who were treated in private hospitals, could not pay their bills.
He said the hospitals insisted on payment of bills and the governor took it upon himself to pay.
“I didn’t have the money to pay, but the governor asked me to tell them (hospitals) not to charge the patients and that he would pay them,’’ the commissioner said.
He, however, said the bills were high because the government had shown a commitment to pay, adding that there were instances where a patient was charged N9 million as medical bills.
“By the time the bills came in, they were as high as hundreds of millions and the state could not pay them at the same time,” Ukpong said.
He said one of the victims was paralysed and the governor directed the head of service to pay her salary for the rest of her life.
The commissioner added that the government bought a wheelchair and special bed for the victim.
He restated government’s commitment to improving health services for the benefit of the people.