Mom in de­spair as row over bill de­lays daugh­ter’s surgery

Pretoria News Weekend - - WORLD -

ABUJA: For the past three weeks, Kolo Adamu has slept on the floor be­side her daugh­ter Naomi’s hos­pi­tal bed in north-east Nige­ria, un­able to af­ford the surgery she needs for a kid­ney con­di­tion.

Naomi, 27, was one of more than 200 school­girls ab­ducted by Boko Haram from their school in Chi­bok, Nige­ria, in April 2014, and among the 82 girls freed by the ji­hadists in May, adding to 24 oth­ers who were re­leased or found last year.

Af­ter months of coun­selling and med­i­cal care in the cap­i­tal, Abuja, as part of a state re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gramme, the gov­ern­ment spon­sored the girls to start a spe­cial catch-up course in Septem­ber at the Amer­i­can Univer­sity of Nige­ria (AUN) in Yola.

Naomi and five of her Chi­bok class­mates en­rolled at the AUN are suf­fer­ing due to in­juries in­flicted dur­ing their time in cap­tiv­ity – from shrap­nel in their bod­ies to frac­tured bones – said Yakubu Nkeki of the Chi­bok Par­ents’ As­so­ci­a­tion.

Yet the gov­ern­ment and the univer­sity are pass­ing the buck on pay­ing for their health­care, ac­cord­ing to the girls’ par­ents – mostly farm­ers – who say they are un­able to cover the costs.

“The school said it was not re­spon­si­ble, that the gov­ern­ment was sup­posed to take care of ev­ery­thing,” Naomi’s mother Adamu said.

“At first, the hos­pi­tal gave her a drip and medicine, but for the past four days they haven’t given her any be­cause they said the medicine is fin­ished,” added Adamu, who feels help­less and cries ev­ery time her daugh­ter screams in pain.

“The doc­tor has not shown up. I am con­fused.”

A spokes­woman for the min­istry of women’s af­fairs said the school fees paid by the gov­ern­ment in­cluded med­i­cal bills.

“The fed­eral gov­ern­ment handed over the girls to their par­ents af­ter pay­ing their school fees and ev­ery­thing,” said Suleiman Dantsoho.

“The school should take care of her (Naomi).”

The AUN could not im­me­di­ately be reached for com­ment.

“This is not the re­al­ity we ar­ranged with Pres­i­dent Buhari,” said Nkeki.

“They said they will take care of our daugh­ters… make sure they don’t suf­fer again.

The pain in Naomi’s ab­domen be­gan in cap­tiv­ity, but a doc­tor kid­napped by Boko Haram treated her with medicine, she said.

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

“The pain is too much. Any­thing I eat, I vomit,” Naomi said, her voice weak and barely au­di­ble.

Their three weeks to­gether in hos­pi­tal is the long­est pe­riod Naomi and her mother have spent to­gether since the ab­duc­tion, which sparked an in­ter­na­tional out­cry and a cam­paign on so­cial me­dia with the hash­tag #bring­back­our­girls.

But each day has been fraught with pain and tears.

Some­times, the pain in her ab­domen is so in­tense that Naomi rolls about on the floor or soaks her­self in cold wa­ter. – Reuters

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