Spain denies discrimination in immigrant's TB death

22nd May 2013, Comments 0 comments

Spain's government denied Wednesday that discrimination played any role in the death of a Senegalese immigrant, allegedly diagnosed too late with tuberculosis.

The immigrant, Alpha Pam, died of the infectious lung disease on April 24 at the Inca Hospital on Majorca in the Balearic Islands, which lie in the Mediterranean.

Medical associations and rights groups denounced his death, saying it was the result of a Spanish cost-cutting measure that removed health cards from immigrants without the proper papers, allowing them only paediatric, pregnancy and emergency care.

Health Minister Ana Mato denied that the 28-year-old man's origins had anything to do with his death.

"Unfortunately, sometimes mistakes are made but that has nothing to do with the health service," Mato told parliament.

"No-one who needed it has been left without care," the minister said.

"I will add that in no way, and this is the important thing, was there any discrimination related to the origin or condition of the person being cared for," she said.

Medical associations and non-government groups said Pam was unable to undergo certain tests because, for lack of a health card, he did not have a doctor assigned to follow his case.

"It is not malpractice by health professionals that is leading to a lack of medical attention for thousands of people, resulting even in death, but the imposition of legislation that was approved without measuring the consequences it would have on people's lives and public health," said a statement by Doctors of the World (MDM) and the Spanish Society of Community and Family Medicine (SEMFYC).

The regional government of the Balearic Islands released the findings of its investigation into the case earlier in the day, resulting in the dismissal of the hospital's manager and the opening of probes into the conduct of the doctor, nurse and admissions official involved.

© 2013 AFP

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