Congo hospitals openly jail poor patients

October 26, 2018 3:03 PM

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Congo hospitals openly jail poor patients

LUBUMBASHI, Congo (AP) — The most surprising thing about the fact that Congolese hospitals detain patients who fail to pay their bills is that it’s no secret: administrators, doctors and nurses openly discuss it, and the patients are held in plain sight.

An Associated Press investigation found that only one of more than 20 hospitals and clinics visited in the copper-mining metropolis of Lubumbashi did not routinely imprison patients.

The only ones who claim they don’t know what’s happening in Congo, it seems, are more than a dozen major health donors and agencies who invest billions of dollars in the country and have major operations there — including the European Union, UNICEF, the International Committee of the Red Cross, PATH, Save the Children, the U.S. Agency for International Development and World Vision.

They all told the AP they had no knowledge of patient detentions or insufficient information to act.

But such imprisonment practices would be obvious to anyone who follows a long, dark corridor at the Katuba Reference Hospital to a grimy, roach-infested room that houses the hospital’s longest-staying residents: Kimenua Ngoie, who has been there for nearly four months since losing her first baby in a complicated cesarean section and Gabriel Mutamba, in his 80s, who arrived with a broken leg more than a year ago.

“There is a God so I’m not afraid to give birth again,” said Ngoie, 22.

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