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Expectant mothers shocked by ultrasound service fees at Aweil hospital

Expectant mothers shocked by ultrasound service fees at Aweil hospital
MSF doctor conducts an ultrasound check on a patient in South Sudan. Credit//Adi Nadimpalli/MSF

Expectant mothers have raised complaints over ultrasound service fees at Aweil Civil hospital in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state.

Last week, the administration announced the resumption of ultrasound services since the machine broke down in 2020.

It also said the machine at Aweil main hospital will operate from Monday to Friday, adding that no patient will be required to pay for the ultrasound services.

However, some pregnant mothers who sought the services this week were in shocked to find out that they have to pay to use the ultrasound machine.

One of the expectant mothers said she was told to pay 2,000 South Sudanese Pounds.

“I was asked to pay 2,000 SSP so that I can be scanned. This money is a lot of money because not all of us can afford to pay,” she said.

Another pregnant mother said:

“We used to line up at the only 2 private clinics that do scanning here, but even here now we are still being charged highly. Let the hospital sympathize with those who may not have the required amount.”

The mothers called for a reduced price for the ultrasound services.

In response, Marko Ayuel Ayuel who is in-charge of the maternity ward at Aweil civil hospital argued that the charges are meant to the maintenance of the ultrasound machine.

“The reason we charged the mothers is because we need to pay for the technician who decided to help the hospital. When you compare 1,500 SSP with 3,000 SSP in private clinics – our fees are better. We need to maintain the machine every day,” he insisted.

The charges at the private clinic for ultrasound service is said to be between 3,500 to 4,000 South Sudanese Pounds.

An ultrasound machine makes images so that organs inside the body can be examined.

Doctors commonly use ultrasound to study a developing fetus (unborn baby), a person’s abdominal and pelvic organs, muscles and tendons, or their heart and blood vessels. Other names for an ultrasound scan include sonogram or (when imaging the heart) an echocardiogram.

The main hospital that serves Northern Bahr el Ghazal has not had a working ultrasound machine due to a lack of a technician to fix the old one.