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Hospital detentions for new mothers challenged in Ugandan court

by Narges Mohammadi

Two cases to be heard this month could serve as legal precedent to outlaw the holding of patients against their will for unpaid bills

UGANDA/Two women who were prevented from leaving hospital over unpaid medical bills are to have their case against Ugandan authorities heard this month in a case that lawyers hope will end the practice.

Akello Esther Susan, 23, and NS (known by her initials) are jointly suing the government, two district councils and church dioceses over their treatment after giving birth in 2020 and 2021 respectively.

Both suffered complications, and, after initially attending free government hospitals, were referred to private clinics. When they couldn’t pay the bills, they say they were detained against their will for weeks.

“We are hoping to gain a declaration that the detention of mothers by hospitals after the delivery of health services is unlawful, unconstitutional and a violation of our laws,” said their lawyer, Elizabeth Atori.

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