No hope for ailing Chibok girl as Nigerian govt, School trade blame

Chibok Girl
File photo of Chibok girls held captive

There is no hope yet on the horizon for Naomi, one of the 82 freed Chibok girls currently at the hospital needing surgery for a kidney condition.

While the health of the young woman dangles on the edge, the Ministry of Women Affairs, tasked with the welfare of the freed girls and the American University of Nigeria, AUN, where she currently schools, are trading blames on who should take care of her health bills.

Miss Naomi, 27, one of more than 200 schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram from their school in Chibok, North-east Nigeria, in April 2014, returned in May 2017.

She is also one of the six girls, who as part of a state rehabilitation programme, after months of counselling and medical care in the capital, Abuja, is being sponsored by the government to start a special catch-up course in September at the AUN, in Yola.

However, Naomi has been having challenges with her kidney, which has aggravated to the point of needing a surgery.

She has been in the hospital for the past three weeks unable to afford the surgery she needs due to the controversy between the ministry and AUN on who should foot her medical bills.

Her parents, poor farmers, cannot also afford to pay the hospital bills.

AUN, in an official statement to PREMIUM TIMES on Friday, said while it agreed with the women ministry that all of their students, including the young women from Chibok, are covered by the AUN health centre on campus, such coverage does not extend to medical bills from “hospitals outside the campus.”

According to the statement signed by Daniel Okereke, the Executive Director, Communications and Public Relations of the institution, all students pay a health centre fee at AUN, whether AUN students or the Chibok girls, and this fee only covers the cost of the care on AUN campus.

“Our AUN Health Center on campus is not a hospital, but it does provide basic health care for routine medical illnesses. When a student has a health issue that is beyond our AUN Health Center, we inform the student’s parents and refer the student to FMC-Yola, which we have done with the student,” he added.

He however refused to comment further on what AUN would if Ms. Naomi’s case worsens.

According to details gathered, Naomi’s medical condition began in captivity, but a doctor also kidnapped by Boko Haram managed to treated her.

She was referred to a government hospital in Yola last month after a scan at the AUN’s clinic revealed that she had a kidney condition, and the school’s doctor recommended surgery.

Kolo Adamu, the patients’ mother lamented the pain her daughter is going through.

She said, most times, she cries for her daughter when she screams in pain.

“The school said that they are not responsible, that the government is supposed to take care of everything,” she said.

Adamu told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone that at first, the hospital gave Naomi drip and medicine, but for the past four days “they haven’t given her any because they said the medicine is finished.”

“Naomi had lamented that if she had known her health would be such a burden on me, she would have stayed back in the forest. The doctor has not shown up. I am confused,” she said.

On why the ministry is not ready to take up the responsibility of paying for the surgery and hospital bills, the spokesperson, Ministry of Women Affairs, Suleiman Dantsoho, said the school fees paid by the government include medical bills.

“The federal government has handed over the girls to their parents after paying their school fees and everything. The school should take care of her (Naomi),” she said.

Mr.Okereke however said the AUN is looking forward to her (Naomi) returning to the learning community soon.

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