Findings of the commission of inquiry into the death of Saleem al-Nawati, a child, are a good step towards promoting accountability and require a serious follow-up
Need to move forward with improving the public health system, notably a comprehensive and binding health insurance
The Coalition for Accountability and Integrity (AMAN) has followed up on findings of the commission of inquiry into the death of Saleem al-Nawati, a child, who had leukaemia and died at the Department for Treatment Abroad of the Ministry of Health (MoH), while he was trying to be admitted to, and receive medical treatment at, a Palestinian hospital. AMAN is of the view that the fact the MoH established a commission of inquiry, which initiated, finalised, and published findings of the investigation into the incident was the natural and right action in such a serious and urgent case. It would bolster citizens’ confidence in the performance of public institutions.
The commission of inquiry confirmed that all the departments, which handled the case of the late Saleem al-Nawati, were held responsible for his death. These included the MoH Department for Treatment Abroad, Medical Patient Transfer System, and all public hospitals that had refused to admit him. Accordingly, AMAN is expecting that subsequent accountability measures for this failure of action be applied to liable staff, both inside or outside the MoH. Accountability of the staff of the MoH and private hospitals should not be linked to the investigations opened by the Public Prosecution. During a press conference, Dr. Mai al-Kileh, Minister of Health, highlighted that “there is no excuse for the Palestinian health system, both public and private, to fail to admit this case.”
The fact that the commission’s decision was referred to the Public Prosecution confirms a suspect criminal action. Hence, AMAN demands that the Public Prosecution launch and give priority to an investigation into the case. As this has been a case of public opinion, relevant findings will be made publicly available.
AMAN asserts the problems associated with patient transfers drains away some 70 percent of the MoH operating expenses. This can only come to an end by devising radical solutions. It is, therefore, necessary to move forward and develop an inclusive public health system, which addresses imbalance in current health operations. First and foremost, a comprehensive and binding health insurance system will be in place. Health service and health insurance fees will be restructured in line with income brackets. Health services will be localised. Fiscal leakages in patient transfers will reduced. Due attention will be paid to increasing the number of medical staff, adopting an emergency plan, creating channels of communication with the public, providing capacity building to both public and private sectors, and providing all governmental and private health centres with needed medical supplies and equipment.
AMAN further calls on the Palestinian government to bear its responsibilities for establishing a specialised hospital to provide cancer treatment in Palestine, namely, the Khaled al-Hasan Cancer Centre. AMAN calls on the government to be liable for noncompliance with the construction of this national project. The President of the State had already stressed the need to advance implementation of the project step by step.
Earlier, AMAN had sent a letter to the MoH, asking for a briefing on the progress of the commission of inquiry into the death of Al-Nawati and inquiring about the expected date of the publication of relevant findings. The MoH invited AMAN and relevant civil society organisations to the MoH press conference.
AMAN will follow up on the outcomes of accountability action in this case.