By Engy Adham
Bassem Hashem, a detainee who was convicted of theft, died at Post Said General Hospital after struggling with a life-threatening condition in prison.
Hashem was transferred to the intensive care unit at the hospital on 28 September to receive treatment. The official medical record said the diabetic prisoner had been suffering from a thyroid problem and a deteriorating health condition. He died on 9 October.
According to a Human Rights Watch report, entitled “Egypt: Rash of Deaths in Custody”: “Many prisoners appear to have died because they were held in severely overcrowded cells or did not receive adequate medical care for serious ailments.”
The report elaborates on Egypt’s prisons, saying they lack proper food, water, hygiene and medical facilities. Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa Director at HRW, says in the report: “People are being held in grossly overcrowded and inhumane conditions, and the mounting death toll is the wholly predictable consequence.”
The Egyptian Initiative on Personal Rights (EIPR) report on health conditions in 16 prisons and police stations, saying: “Living conditions and health care in prisons do not meet minimum health standards and endanger detainees’ lives.”
Further, according to El-Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, in a study of 15 cases for which the centre identified a cause of death, 13 involved overcrowding or failure to provide medical care, and two involved physical abuse.
The Port Said General Hospital has been subject to many complaints and violations due to significant deterioration and a lack of quality health service standards.
A Facebook page, called “Together to Save Port Said General Hospital” reveals cases of medical negligence, supported with images and documents of occurrences inside the hospital. The page includes series of posts that highlight the medical and administrative wrongdoings taking place inside the hospital.
Official Spokesperson for the Ministry of Health Khaled Megahed told Daily News Egypt: “The ministry is currently working on improving public hospital services and assessing their current situation.”
“Today, we are in the Suez governorate and we had a press conference with the governor to discuss the current status of medical hospitals and clinics, and then we will go to Port Said for the next week,” he added.
Megahed added that the ministry is currently conducting series of visits to different governorates in order to meet their governors and negotiate the health status in different cities.