Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Time to Resolve the Issue of the Bulgarian Nurses - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The Bulgarian nurses and the male Palestinian nurse remain in prison in Libya waiting to be tried or released. Theirs is the only medical case that has become an international political dispute and may evolve into an embarrassing crisis for all concerned parties.

The nurses are accused of transmitting AIDS to children undergoing hospital treatment. Did they intentionally commit this crime? If so, then they should be punished and shown no mercy. However, if they acted by mistake or out of negligence, which is more likely, their case then takes on a different dimension. It becomes one of a long list of medical errors in the Arab world. Were the nurses solely responsible? Did they not sterilize the medical equipment that they used? Did the hospital lack the necessary equipment or control over its staff? In this case, responsibility is divided between the hospital authorities and the nurses. The above questions must be answered in a public court in order to clarify the circumstances surrounding the medical disaster.

Notwithstanding the details of the case, the crime was not deliberate, such as in the case of euthanasia, where doctors assist their patients to die, allegedly to end their suffering.

The accused have been in prison for several years now, despite all mediation efforts. The matter should be settled in court. Much has been said about the fate of the Bulgarian nurses and it remains difficult to understand why it has not been resolved so far.

It is also crucial that the situation in our hospitals is critically examined, given that a number of errors have been committed and doctors have lost their patients’ trust. Unfortunately, health institutions are directly responsible because of a lack of supervision and accountability. A clear set of rules on the responsibilities of all medical staff needs to be implemented. In Riyadh, a young girl has also contracted HIV from polluted blood. Many others have died from a lack of basic hygiene and infected blood.

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed

Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad. He has a US post-graduate degree in mass communications, and has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is currently based in Dubai.

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