Lebanon News

Ministry halts hospital contract after toddler’s death

Health Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, right, and the head of Beirut's Order of Physicians Sharaf Abu Sharaf attend a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: The Health Ministry decided Wednesday to suspend its contract with a hospital in north Lebanon after the center refused to treat an infant who later died.

“The ministry decided to suspend the contract with Dar Al-Shifaa Hospital in Tripoli and to follow up on the investigation in order to finalize measures [against the hospital] in line with legal procedures,” the ministry said in a statement.

It added that the ministry’s decision was based on reports put forward by doctors.

The reports, according to the ministry, said that the hospital had refused to admit Moemin al-Mohammad, who was less than 2-years-old, “under an illegal pretext” and with the full knowledge that the baby boy was in need of medical assistance.

The ministry said the hospital's actions violated terms of contracts signed between hospitals and the ministry and was punishable under Penal Code 567.

The infant, from the Akkar village of Burj al-Arab, was denied treatment by several hospitals in Tripoli and Akkar due to his parent’s inability to cover hospital expenses. The father returned to Al-Shifaa after securing the needed money but the infant died at the doorstep of the medical center.

Earlier this week, the Health Ministry temporarily stopped covering the expenses of patients without private insurance or National Social Security Fund coverage, citing budgetary constraints. But Health Minister Ali Hasan Khalil called on hospitals Tuesday to admit uninsured patients once more after the Finance Ministry released funds.

During a meeting of Cabinet at Baabda Palace earlier in the day, President Michel Sleiman tasked Lebanon’s health minister with following up the Moemin’s case, a statement from his press office said.

Khalil said Wednesday that hospitals had no right to refuse any patient.

“There will be no compromise in terms of adherence to contracts signed between the ministry and hospitals,” Khalil’s office quoted him as saying.

“Citizens have the right to obtain medical care and hospitalization and what hospitals offer is the right of citizens in return for what the state pays and no one has the right to deny them this,” he said.





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