Chatham House has said that there is a high level of medical detention taking place in parts of the world particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The practice which involves hospitals forcibly detaining patients who are unable to pay their medical bills also takes place in India and Indonesia.
In a report published by Chatham House in its Chatham House paper, the think tank said “Many reported detentions result from emergency care, often following road accidents or complications in childbirth, with mothers being separated from their newborns.”
The group looked at the “prevalence of medical detentions globally, the health and human rights impacts, and policy options to reduce and eradicate the practice” during its investigations.
Co-author of the report Robert Yates who is also the Project Director of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Policy Forum at Chatham House’s Centre on Global Health Security said ‘There is no justification – at any income level or in any country – for health facilities to detain people and, in effect, take them hostage until someone can cover their bill”.
‘The practice is psychologically and economically crippling – and also disastrous for health outcomes. Fears of debt and detention are scaring people out of seeking life-saving and preventative treatments,” Yates said.
According to Chatham House the solution to the problem is to “eliminate healthcare user fees and provide universal free healthcare.”
Chatham House also suggested in its report that “Governments state unequivocally that detention is illegal” adding that “legal solutions are unlikely to succeed without governments providing the necessary finance to hospitals to cover their costs.”
It also wants investments in “improved governance and enforcement mechanisms.”