LUBUMBASHI, Congo (AP) â The most surprising thing about the fact that Congolese hospitals detain patients who fail to pay their bills is that itâs no secret: administrators, doctors and nurses openly discuss it, and the patients are held in plain sight.
An Associated PressÂ investigationÂ 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 donât know whatâs 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 â 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 theÂ Katuba Reference HospitalÂ to a grimy, roach-infested room that houses the hospitalâs 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.
âThere is a God so Iâm not afraid to give birth again,â said Ngoie, 22.
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