The associations Together for Life and the Albanian Helsinki Committee (AHC) appreciate the decision rendered by the Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination with regard to children suffering from Leukemia.
The decision comes after a request submitted by both organizations, in August 2016, for carrying out an administrative ex-officio investigation, into the discrimination of ill children due to the absence of the medicament L-Asparaginase at the Onco-hematology Quarters of the Pediatrics Service at the “Mother Teresa” University Hospital Center, Tirana.
AHC and Together for Life set to motion the Commissioner in July 2016. During this time, we denounced the absence of medicaments that jeopardized the life of children with Leukemia while the “Mother Teresa” University Hospital Center in Tirana declared that it had made all efforts to purchase the medicaments but it had not been possible because of the failure of procurement procedures. In its request to the Commissioner, both organizations argued that the cause for the failure of procedures might have been the very small amount of the medicament (flacons) required through the maximal funds of 294,712 ALL (without VAT), an amount that is considered too small by companies to engage in procurement procedures.
In its Decision no. 196, of 29.12.2016, the Commissioner for Protection against Discrimination argues that “The UHCT directory, from the period of failures of procurement procedures for the medicament has been aware of the fact that the medicament had not been registered in the Republic of Albania and yet did not take measures to let the Ministry of Health know about this absence or take measures to secure the medicament through donations before the absence of the medicament became known and was made public by the organizations Albanian Helsinki Committee and Together for Life…..The Commissioner considers that the UHCT Directory, given the long time available (2015 – 06.2016) should have found the institutional and legal space (as it secured the supply after 14.09.2016) to secure the medicament for child patients in time.
In closing, the Commissioner deemed that the practice followed by the “Mother Teresa” University Hospital Center, by not making available to the children the medicaments, represents indirect discrimination of children suffering from Leukemia in the Onco-hematology Quarters of the Pediatrics Service and recommended that the Center, in the future, ensure the supply of medicaments at the right time and in the proper quantity.
AHC and Together for Life hope that this precedent of the Commissioner will serve to public health institutions to reflect positively for all those patients who do not obtain the proper health care service from these institutions at present.
AHC thanks Civil Rights Defenders for the support provided for the free Legal Clinic, thanks to which this intervention with the Commissioner was made possible.