Unable to pay bills, Kenyan ‘detained’ in Punjab hospital

March 10th, 2009 - 12:13 am ICT by IANS  

Ludhiana, March 9 (IANS) A Kenyan national Monday alleged that he was detained for nine months in a hospital after he failed to pay his medical bills worth Rs.690,000, even as the hospice authorities denied the allegation.
Antony Odhiambo from Kenya’s Homa Bay area said he was “freed” Monday after an NGO interceded on his behalf with the Christian Medical College and Hospital authorities.

The Kenyan, who has been living in India since 2003, is a student with a UN institute in New Delhi.

“I am a happy man to be free from the hospital. I could not pay the hospital bills and was detained by the (hospital) authorities. My family will be relieved to hear that I am free now,” Anthony, 37, claimed.

He said that an intervention of the NGO, Universal Human Rights Organization (UHRO), helped to get him freed.

Anthony’s hospital bill had accumulated to nearly Rs 690.000 which he was unable to pay. He was treated for intestinal obstruction and hernia.

But the hospital authorities refuted the allegation that the Kenyan was detained by them for non-payment of dues.

“We had discharged the patient in November itself. Allegations of being detained are baseless. However, he willingly chose to stay hoping that the Kenyan embassy in Delhi would pay his bills. We have communicated with the embassy but have not received any reply,” a senior hospital official said.

UHRO president Satnam Singh claimed that the records show that Anthony was discharged from the hospital but he was kept inside till the hospitalisation amount was paid. He added that after the UHRO intervened, the Kenyan was allowed to go without paying the bills.

The Kenyan had come to meet a friend in this industrial city of Punjab March last year and was admitted to the hospital following severe abdominal pain. He first went to a government hospital but when his condition deteriorated, he was referred to the super-specialty CMCH.

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