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Soaring medical costsafter gas blast

Published on 09/08/2004

9 August 2004

BRUSSELS – The Belgian government has pledged to find a solution to finance specialised treatment for burn victims of the Ghislenghien gas blast.

The medicine required for the casualties is so expensive that the national insurance firm for illnesses and invalidity (INAMI) will not foot the bill, reported the Belga news agency.

Public Health Minister Rudy Demotte said he had not yet found a solution to the problem but that the victims of the explosion would not be lumbered with the medical costs.

Eighteen people died and over 100 people were injured, many seriously, when a gas pipeline exploded on 30 July at an industrial site in Ghislenghien.

The military hospital at Neder-over-Hembeek has been using a new product, Intergra, to treat burn wounds, with promising results.

Despite the enormous cost of the drug, patients at the military hospital can receive free treatment as it is financed from the national defence budget.

But this does not apply in other hospitals, where INAMI will not pay for Class D medicines used when there is no other alternative.

Demotte said Ghislenghien victims would not have to pay for the medicine if they had insurance for work-related accidents or hospital cover.

Meanwhile, young people in Ghislenghien have raised more than EUR 12,500 through selling white roses.

The sale was organised at a roundabout near the disaster site.

The final sum surpassed the target of EUR 10,000 and the young people have opened a bank account for additional donations.

The account number is 751-2015695-75, under the name “Ghislenghien-Solidaire.”

News also emerged on Monday of delays to the reopening of the gas pipeline parallel to the one that exploded.

Service was initially to be resumed on Sunday evening, but the date has been put back by authorities in the nearby town of Ath and by Fluxys, the company that runs the Belgian gas network.

Ongoing security concerns have been cited as the reason for the delay, after the town authorities met with Fluxys and the Belgian energy minister over the weekend.

“We have listened to them but now we want to study the question in detail to be able to reassure our citizens with the best possible information,” said town leader Marc Duvivier.

He said more consultation was needed about the safety techniques in place at the second pipeline.

Fluxys has said it will wait for the green light from the Ath authorities before it resumes service.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news