World marks TB Day while the Kharkiv authorities fuel the epidemic
The Kharkiv Human Rights Group is forced to conclude that the city authorities are hell-bent on exacerbating the tuberculosis epidemic. By 15 March they had closed three anti-tuberculosis units of the First City Clinic, dismissing the medical staff and supposedly moving the patients to regional institutions. In so doing they ignored the protests of patients and doctors, the recommendations from the Kharkiv National Medical University and the Academy of Postgraduate Education, a Ministry of Health Commission, as well as a decision from a special Ministry Meeting on this issue. Furthermore, despite the fact that there are still remand prisoners with tuberculosis in Unit No. 3, a convoy, doctor and serving personnel, an order has been given to cut gas and electricity supplies.
Ihor Shurma, Deputy Mayor: “There are three stages: the first is a reduction of 415 beds, the second – a reduction of 230 beds, and in the second year, when the situation has been regulated, we will hand over the outpatient clinic.”
Mr Shurma explains the reduction by the lack of money in the city budget to pay for construction work towards Euro-2012, as well as Article 90 of the Budget Code which stipulates that anti-tuberculosis units are paid out of the regional budget. However the city budget, in violation of Article 28 § 3 of this same Code, has not been made public.
Although the regional authorities did not have the funding in its budget to maintain City Clinic No. 1, it has taken two of the tuberculosis units, No. 3 and 4 onto its accounts and merged them with the regional tuberculosis clinic, yet without increasing the number of places in order to eliminate infringements of sanitary norms. It has already been announced that by 15 May the 230 beds remaining in Clinic No. 1 are to go. The surgery and tuberculosis meningites departments which are not available in any other clinics are also to be cut.
The actions of the city authorities are a flagrant infringement of both the Constitution and legislation. It should be stressed that even without such “reorganization”, the number of beds was insufficient given the rise in the number of patients coughing or in other ways expelling the bacteria, while the sanitary norms of 7 square metres per patient are infringed in almost all institutions. City patients are refusing to go to the regional clinics since the food there is insufficient, while their relatives cant bring them food since the distance is too great. Not to mention the fact that each day people come forward who have just contracted the disease.
This reckless reorganization could so exacerbate the already severe problems in the Kharkiv region, making it more likely that in 2012 there will be a pandemic and not a football competition.
A picket in protest will take place from 14.00 on 24 March outside the City Executive Committee
As of 1 January 2009 there were 4,728 people in the Kharkiv region suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis in an active form, of whom 36% or 1702 patients were excreting bacteria (718 in the city, and 984 in the region)
In 2008 1936 people contracted the disease, of these 1810 in an active form, with 847 coughing or in other ways expelling the bacteria.