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    Hospital staff accused of fleecing patients

    JALALABAD (PAN): Workers of the maternity ward at the 50-bed hospital in the Ghanikhel district of eastern Nangarhar province are illegally receiving money from female patients, residents complain.   

    Hailing from the Beshpelak area of Ghanikhel, Zarin Taja, who brought her daughter-in-law to the hospital, alleged midwives misbehaved with patients and attendants.

    "Doctors insult us when we request them to examine our patients," she grumbled, claiming medics received thousands of afghanis from each woman giving birth to a baby.

    "When my daughter-in-law delivered a baby, staff members demanded 3,000 afghanis. But I could give them 1,200 Pakistani rupees and they discharged us at 10 pm."

    Salim, who belongs to Batikot district, said a midwife forced him into paying her Rs. 2,000 after his wife gave birth to a baby at the hospital last night.  According to him, nurses refused to give them the baby in case of non-payment. "Masquerading as medics, they are robbers who are looting the poor people."

    A tribal elder, Haji Wakil Shah Bacha, confirmed patients’ complaints against the Ghanikhel hospital staff. "The entire government is involved in corruption, and hospital workers are no exception.”

    Another tribal elder, Malik Haji Nasim, blamed senior doctors at the hospital for refusing to address the complaints.  

    But the hospital head, Dr. Rahman Gul, dismissed the allegations as baseless. He said a midwife was recently sacked for seeking money from a patient’s attendants.

    "Our hospital is providing free health services. However, a patient can willingly give money to a staff member on joyous occasions like a baby’s birth."

    He said the hospital, visited by a large number of patients on a daily basis, lacked resources. A patient who did not receive health services in time would obviously complain, Gul explained.

    Public Health Director Baz Mohammad Sherzad asked the people to inform the authorities if a doctor sought money from them. Public cooperation was needed to discourage such practices, he concluded.