05 June 2013

Ambulance fails to arrive, child dies in taxi on way back to hospital

ETLJB 05 June 2013 - Though not strictly a report on a law and justice issue, ETLJB wishes to draw attention to this tragic story which does, nonetheless, raise an issue of social justice and the rights of the child.

According to an English translation of a report in Jornal Independente on 4 June, published by the Timor Leste Media Development Centre, an eight yea old child has died in her brother's arms while on the way to hospital in a taxi. The deceased child has been identified as Etelvina Gama.

A relative of the deceased child, Manuel de Jesus, is reported to have told Independente that they had waited from 2 pm until 4 pm for an ambulance that never arrived and had finally taken a taxi to the national hospital but the child had died on the way. The taxi driver forced them to get out of his vehicle at the Timor Plaza shopping centre.

“We rode in a taxi from Rai Kotu to go to hospital until here (Timor-Plaza) but Etelvina died and the taxi driver did not want to to carry us to hospital anymore and made us get out from his taxi here,” Manuel said.

The child had been transferred from Gleno hospital to the National Hospital on May 17, 2013 for further treatment of a lung disease and the child was treated in National Hospital for nine days but was discharged on May 26, 2013.

On 19 September 2012, ETLJB reported on the death of an elderly man on the streets of Dili.  At that time, President Taur Matan Ruak stated that poverty was a threat to the security of the nation. The death of this young girl is another sad reminder of the poverty in which many East Timorese live even though there is now more than $13billion dollars in the petroleum fund. The family of this child is apparently too poor to own a vehicle (not even a motor bike) and the ambulance service is so poor that it was unable to get to the child on time. Perhaps if circumstances had been otherwise, the child may have been saved by swift medical intervention.

On the same day that these events occurred, it was reported by Macauhub that government of East Timor has donated US$6.8 million to support the General State Budget for 2013 of Sao Tome and Principe. According to TVS, the Timor government’s decision was made last Wednesday following a visit by the president of the Sao Tome parliament, Alcino Pinto to Dili, the capital of East Timor.

In addition, East Timor provided US$750,000 donation for the victims of typhoon Pablo during a visit to the Philippines by Prime Minister Gusmao.

To this writer, it is patently absurd that $7,755,000 be given by one of the world's poorest nations in international aid while its government can not provide a reliable ambulance service for its people and its citizens, both elderly and young, are dying in horrendous circumstances on the streets of its capital city. Source: TLMDC translating Independente, Macauhub & ABS-CBN News. Edited by Warren L. Wright. Updated 07/06/2013

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