In Nigeria, very few medical services are free of charge, and if you can’t pay your hospital bill you may not be allowed to leave. Who will help? In this deeply religious society, many stranded patients hope for divine intervention.
Zeal Akaraiwai does not have the wings of an angel – he has a sleek black Mercedes, all purring engine and deep leather seats. This 40-something financial consultant – trim and neat – steps out of his car in a potholed government hospital car park in Lagos. He is greeted warmly by a team of social workers, and gets straight to business. He asks them for “the list”.
Neatly printed on A4 paper are the names of patients who are well enough to go home. But they are not going anywhere, because they cannot pay their medical bills.