Following a Facebook post uploaded by a lady narrating her experience at the emergency ward at Mater Dei Hospital Malta, on Saturday 12 March, AMAM radio show was about the recurrent complaints by foreigners on the quality of the reception in public hospitals in the island. Regine PSAILA with her co-hosts Lorraine FOTSO and Precious ATIGOLO opened the debates.
Veramente Ebony is a well known hair stylist and business owner among the African immigrant community in Malta. Early this month, she shared on her Facebook account her challenges when she rushed with her young son at Mater Dei Hospital at 3 am. It was likely that her publication gathered a lot of reactions. Many reports have emerged of people complaining about the way they have been welcomed or badly welcomed at Mater Dei, the biggest hospital of the country.
Below is an extract from her publication :
“On the 9th of march 2022, my seven years old child had a terrible stomach pain at 3 am in the morning' I had to rush him with pyjamas . We went straight to the emergency department to seek for help. Getting to the reception the receptionist asked If I work in Malta I said yes " she said where is my payslip? I said am self employed. She said where is the tax payment slip? I said its at home but she can check it online with my ID number, she said that's not part of her job, at this point my son started screaming of pain, this lady of around 50 years old' didn't show any concern to save the life of a little Boy. She said I should drive back home to bring the tax payment receipt or I pay €100 cash before she can proceed. Then I ask her what if I don't have money right now" why not proceed with treatment then later send the bills , my son is in a terrible pain" he might loose his life . She said there is no way she can help the situation (…..) ".
ATIGOLO recalled bad memories of being asked quite brutally "Can you show us your pay slip?" to make sure that the bill is paid without worrying about the patient's pain.
PSAILA mentioned reports in which in the waiting room, doctors or nurses say loudly the reason for a patient's visit, making a private matter known to complete strangers. Veramente Ebody in her post suggested that her skin colour could have been the issue, but for Psaila, it is not the only reason. A lot of reporst have come also form non-black people, White, for whom it can be an institutionalised xenophobic attitude.
FOTSO found it important to remind to the bad health practitioners that they have taken the Hippocratic Oath which assigns the below three fundamental principles:
Always treat the sick person on the best of your abilities;
Preserve the privacy of the patient;
Expose the secret of medicine to the next generation.
Going to the hospital is not a pleasant experience per se and one expects empathy once in such a place supposed to channel hope and appeasement. There are certainly very good doctors in Malta, but here we want to make our voices heard.
As the elections are approaching, we want to say that foreigners are not well treated in public hospitals. More needs to be done.
Some vulnerable people, asylum seekers for example, run away from the hospital because of the way many of them are treated. A young lady of 22 years old died recently because she was refusing to go to the hospital, saying that they would “anyway give me panadol”.
Watch the full episode here.