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Cyprus

Investigation ordered into case of pregnant refugee who lost twins (updated)

The Makarios children's hospital in Nicosia

Outrage has erupted after complaints emerged that a pregnant woman lost her twins after she was denied treatment at the Makarios children’s hospital despite being a recognised refugee.

Health Minister Michalis Hadjipantela met with the woman on Friday, and has asked for the case to be immediately investigated and for a report of the events to be handed over to him.

The woman claims that she was denied medical services after hospital officials refused her a visit to the doctor citing her inadequate paperwork and lack of money for the appointment.

Permanent secretary of the health ministry Christina Yiannaki has written to the state health services (Okypy) to immediately investigate the incident and to ascertain to what extent mishandling of the situation may have led to the tragic outcome.

The incident occurred on August 22 when the woman – towards the end of her first trimester – went to the hospital as she was suffering abdominal pains and had a fever. Once there she was refused services as officials on site said that as a recognised refugee she had to confirm her Gesy (national healthcare) credentials. She was unable to do so and was asked to pay but the woman did not have the money available and was turned away.

Daily Politis said that the woman went to Makarios children’s hospital on August 9 and was informed that she was ten weeks pregnant with twins.

Alerted to her case, the Cyprus refugee council sent a request to the health ministry to issue an exceptional health card for the woman, which she received on August 12. Ten days later, she went back to the hospital but officials there did not accept her health card as they argued that since she was a recognised refugee, she must be registered with Gesy.

It was further reported that one nurse had previously refused her services four times – stating that since the woman had no appointment or money, she must instead go to the Nicosia general hospital A&E department.

She did so but was in turn sent back to Makarios children’s hospital when the issue of paperwork again blocked her from meeting with a doctor.

That same day, a member of staff from the Cyprus refugee council contacted Gesy who informed them that the woman must send her request via email.

She received a response on August 25 and was granted an appointment with a doctor for the next day, who subsequently informed her that the twin fetuses had not survived.

The incident brings to light the lack of an A&E department at the Makarios children’s hospital, which causes delays in treatment.

Hadjipantela earlier this month requested the entire process of creating the A&E at Makarios be accelerated with at least a temporary unit running by December.

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