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November 27, 2011

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The Death of Lazo to be blamed on the Broken Health Care System in Kurdistan

The Federation of Civil Society Organizations 

On November 17th, the committee established to look into the death of Lazo Salam failed to identify any responsible person or body for the health care system for the death of the 4 years old child. The death of Lazo reminds us with a single truth which is the fact that he was yet another victim of a broken health system. His parent’s only child, Lazo’s death would have caused the resignation of the Minister of Health and the responsible officials in a country where health systems are accountable and responsive. In Kurdistan , neither the Minister of Health nor any policy maker within the system claimed responsibility. 

We in the Federation visited the family of Lazo. The devastated parents provided a detailed account for not only the death of their son but also the results of the investigation committee established by the Ministry of Health. We are now sure than anytime else that no investigation committee in Kurdistan would be impartial and neutral. We are further aware of the inability of these committees to influence the policies and procedures in the public institutions and organizations including in this case those of the health care system. The inhumane treatment of people in hospitals and health centers which was the reason for the death of Lazo is still a regular practice in the health system. Patients are still denied crucial services, which at times results in their death, for not having referral document from private clinics or public health centers. This policy is not only unnecessary but as the death of Lazo clearly shows, is putting the life of patients at risk. Every hospital in Kurdistan should be providing emergency services and should not deny care to any person that need life saving measures. The failure of the policy makers in the health care system to understand and implement this basic, yet crucial policy would result in further casualties and more mortality. 

The Federation conducted in cooperation with the 400 group, a series of activities to finish the overdue 400 bed hospital in Sulaimaniah. We exposed, among many other irregularities, the corruption and inefficiencies that resulted in the failure to finish the hospital after more than 10 years from starting its construction work. We provided evidences of corruption to the Public Persecution and the Parliament. In response to our campaign, the Minister of Health announced that the Kurdistan Regional Government will not continue its dealings with the company that failed to complete the building of the hospital. He told the Aso newspaper on January 13th, 2011 that they blacklisted that company. Ten months later, we are shocked to notice that the name of the company is nowhere to be found in the list of the blacklisted companies in Kurdistan released on November 14th.   

The failure of completing major health infrastructure project as the 400 bed hospital in Sulaimaniah is putting the life of vulnerable patients on the line. If it wasn’t for corruption and inadequacies by the Ministry of Health, the 400 bed hospital would have saved many lives and protected many others from death and ill health.  

We call on every stakeholder, particularly the Parliament of Kurdistan, to launch an independent investigation into the death of Lazo. We demand the Minister of Health to be questioned in the Parliament as soon as possible for the death of this child. Lazo’s death should start a self-examination process into the entire health care system in Kurdistan and should stimulate a genuine and multi-lateral dialogue and conversation on the policies and procedures governing the referral of patients, use of medicines, illegal practice. 

We keep Lazo and all of the victims of the health care system in Kurdistan in our thoughts and wish his family hope and comfort. 

The Federation of Civil Society Organizations  12 Non-governmental Organizations  and a group of independent activist  Sulaimaniah 23/11/2011

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