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Gabat PHCU reopens with less charges for locals

Gabat PHCU reopens with less charges for locals
Northern Bahr el Ghazal state Ministry of Health HQ Courtesy

Gabat Primary Health Care Unit has resumed operations after a week of closure following a misunderstanding that arose between the community and health officials over new fees imposed on patients.

Last month, the Northern Bahr el Ghazal state Ministry of Health introduced the collection of registration fees from every patient seeking treatment at state health facilities. This is after the HealthPool Fund organization reportedly ended its support for over 26 health facilities in the state in April 2022.

The State Minister of Health said they “introduced the cost sharing to help us buy drugs and pay incentives for doctors.”

However, locals in Gabat rejected the move, arguing that the health centre is still being supported by aid agencies. They said the money – 500 to 900 South Sudanese Pounds – was unnecessary burden for the locals.

“We want to know what they are going to do with the money since incentives and drugs are the responsibility of HealthPool Fund,” a local chief had said.

The disagreement forced health officials to close down Gabat Primary Health Care Unit and turned patients away. “We have closed because the community could not agree to pay the money,” said Paul Maker Malual who is in charge of the PHCU.

However, Paul Malual has now informed Akol Yam FM that services have resumed at the health facility.

“We resumed yesterday [Tuesday] after meeting the County Health Director who advised us to continue working using our previous charges of 100 pounds per patient. So we are now back to work,” he stated.

Mr. Malual also said the elderly and those unable to pay are being treated for free.

Some of the local who sought treatment at Gabat healthcare centre confirmed that they only paid the required amount of 100 SSP.

“I brought my child here and he have been treated. We were asked to give 100 pounds as a registration fee which we can all afford,” one of the patients said.

The residents appreciated the state government for reconsidering the matter.

“I have been treated as you can see here are my drugs in my hands. We are happy that the 500 pounds charges by the government have been removed,” another patient said.

Officials say health facilities in the state have been hit by shortages of drugs since the organization pulled out in April over financial constraints.