The political economy of ebola

A discussion of the political economy of ebola goes a long way to explaining why this disease has become a full-blown regional health crisis in West Africa. Ismail Rashid, professor of African history at Vasser College, joins Amandla’s Gwen Schulman in a conversation the places ebola in the context of years of devastating civil wars and the dismantlement of public infrastructure under structural adjustment programs. People.



Putting Ebola in context

Looking at the coverage around the Ebola outbreak, Gwen Shulman speaks to Melodie Hicks about health care and medical concerns in Africa.

South Africa: Mbeki sacks deputy health minister/ Afrique du Sud: Mbeki renvoie sa vice-ministre de la santé

(Liens en anglais/ links in english)

Il semble que parce qu’elle faisait du bon travail, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge (voir photo) a été renvoyée de son poste de vice-ministre de la santé par le président Thabo Mbeki. (Dans le Guardian de Londres)

Because she seemed to do a good work, the deputy health minister, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge (see picture), was sacked by president Thabo Mbeki. This move brought angriness from the NGOs.

London Guardian:

Aids activists furious at sacking by Mbeki· Deputy health minister axed after Spanish visit
· Unions and opposition condemn president

David Beresford in Johannesburg Agencies
Friday August 10, 2007

The South African president, Thabo Mbeki, has sparked outrage among Aids activists by firing the highly popular deputy health minister on what they claimed were trumped up charges.

N. Madlala-RoutledgeNozizwe Madlala-Routledge was sacked for travelling to attend an Aids conference in Spain without the permission of President Mbeki. But campaigners said that Mr Mbeki seized the opportunity to rid himself of a politician who had shown herself prepared to openly criticise government on Aids and other health issues.

President Mbeki has become notorious for denying that Aids is caused by a virus. He is supported by the minister of health, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang who is known as Dr Beetroot for her claims that beetroot and garlic can treat Aids.

Dr Tshabalala-Msimang was ill for nine months and has only recently resumed her duties. During the health minister’s illness, Ms Madlala-Routledge mended fences with activists in the Treatment Action Campaign and the mainstream medical community and was one of the driving forces behind a new five-year plan which has made reducing the number of new HIV infections one of its main targets, and aims to extend treatment to 80% of those with Aids by 2011.

The firing of Ms Madlala-Routledge was described yesterday by the Treatment Action Committee as a “dreadful error of judgment”. “It indicates that the president still remains opposed to the science of HIV and to appropriately responding to the epidemic. We call on him to reverse his decision,” the committee added.

The deputy minister was fired for going to Spain with her son and a government consultant at a cost of R160,000 (£11,000). His aides said that there had been a mix-up over dates and that the president only refused her permission to make the trip after she had arrived in Spain. It is believed she refused to resign and was then fired.

Reaction to her sacking has demonstrated not only her popularity, but also the deep unpopularity of Mr Mbeki. The parliamentary opposition, the Congress of South Africa Trade Unions and the South African Communist party joined in the criticism of the sacking. Cosatu said her firing would “deepen a culture of sycophancy” in the government.

Patricia De Lille, leader of the small Independent Democrats party, noted the dismissal came “just hours before the dawn of our 13th Women’s day”, calling it “an insult to every single South African woman who has the courage to stand up for the truth”.

Ms Madlala-Routledge is a former deputy minister of defence. She is also a Quaker.

Mukoni Ratshitanga, a spokesman for Mr Mbeki, said the president did not need to explain his decision. “Members of cabinet and deputy ministers serve at the behest of the president,” he said.

Arrêtez d’essayer de “sauver” l’Afrique/ Stop trying to ‘Save’ Africa

Voici un article écrit par Uzodinma Iweala (voir photo) dans la Washington Post, il y a une semaine mais qui vaut la peine d’être lu. “L’Afrique est un contient qui doit être sauvé de ses innombrables calamités”. Cette déclaration de certains Occidentaux soulève des questions de fond qu’Iweala nous présente ici.

Here is an article from Uzodinma Iweala (see picture) written in the Washington post a week ago but it is worth the read. “Africa is a continent that has to be saved from  countless calamities”. This declaration from the West brings fundamental questions that are raised by Iweala:

IwealaStop Trying To ‘Save’ Africa’
By Uzodinma Iweala
Sunday, July 15, 2007
Last fall, shortly after I returned from Nigeria , I was accosted by a perky blond college student whose blue eyes seemed to match the “African” beads around her wrists.

“Save Darfur!” she shouted from behind a table covered with pamphlets urging students to TAKE ACTION NOW! STOP GENOCIDE IN DARFUR!

My aversion to college kids jumping onto fashionable social causes nearly caused me to walk on, but her next shout stopped me.

“Don’t you want to help us save Africa?” she yelled.

It seems that these days, wracked by guilt at the humanitarian crisis it has created in the Middle East, the West has turned to Africa for redemption. Idealistic college students, celebrities such as Bob Geldof and politicians such as Tony Blair have all made bringing light to the dark continent their mission. They fly in for internships and fact-finding missions or to pick out children to adopt in much the same way my friends and I in New York take the subway to the pound to adopt stray dogs.

This is the West’s new image of itself: a sexy, politically active generation whose preferred means of spreading the word are magazine spreads with celebrities pictured in the foreground, forlorn Africans in the back. Never mind that the stars sent to bring succor to the natives often are, willingly, as emaciated as those they want to help.

Perhaps most interesting is the language used to describe the Africa being saved. For example, the Keep a Child Alive /” I am African” ad campaign features portraits of primarily white, Western celebrities with painted “tribal markings” on their faces above “I AM AFRICAN” in bold letters. Below, smaller print says, “help us stop the dying.”

Such campaigns, however well intentioned, promote the stereotype of Africa as a black hole of disease and death. News reports constantly focus on the continent’s corrupt leaders, warlords, “tribal” conflicts, child laborers, and women disfigured by abuse and genital mutilation. These descriptions run under headlines like “Can Bono Save Africa?” or “Will Brangelina Save Africa?” The relationship between the West and Africa is no longer based on openly racist beliefs, but such articles are reminiscent of reports from the heyday of European colonialism, when missionaries were sent to Africa to introduce us to education, Jesus Christ and “civilization.”

There is no African, myself included, who does not appreciate the help of the wider world, but we do question whether aid is genuine or given in the spirit of affirming one’s cultural superiority. My mood is dampened every time I attend a benefit whose host runs through a litany of African disasters before presenting a (usually) wealthy, white person, who often proceeds to list the things he or she has done for the poor, starving Africans. Every time a well-meaning college student speaks of villagers dancing because they were so grateful for her help, I cringe. Every time a Hollywood director shoots a film about Africa that features a Western protagonist, I shake my head — because Africans, real people though we may be, are used as props in the West’s fantasy of itself. And not only do such depictions tend to ignore the West’s prominent role in creating many of the unfortunate situations on the continent, they also ignore the incredible work Africans have done and continue to do to fix those problems.

Why do the media frequently refer to African countries as having been “granted independence from their colonial masters,” as opposed to having fought and shed blood for their freedom? Why do Angelina Jolie and Bono receive overwhelming attention for their work in Africa while Nwankwo Kanu or Dikembe Mutombo, Africans both, are hardly ever mentioned? How is it that a former mid-level U.S. diplomat receives more attention for his cowboy antics in Sudan than do the numerous African Union countries that have sent food and troops and spent countless hours trying to negotiate a settlement among all parties in that crisis?

Two years ago I worked in a camp for internally displaced people in Nigeria, survivors of an uprising that killed about 1,000 people and displaced 200,000. True to form, the Western media reported on the violence but not on the humanitarian work the state and local governments — without much international help — did for the survivors. Social workers spent their time and in many cases their own salaries to care for their compatriots. These are the people saving Africa, and others like them across the continent get no credit for their work.

Last month the Group of Eight industrialized nations and a host of celebrities met in Germany to discuss, among other things, how to save Africa. Before the next such summit, I hope people will realize Africa doesn’t want to be saved. Africa wants the world to acknowledge that through fair partnerships with other members of the global community, we ourselves are capable of unprecedented growth.

Uzodinma Iweala is the author of “Beasts of No Nation,” a novel about child soldiers.

Émission Amandla du 4 juillet 2007/ Amandla show from July 4th 2007

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant l’émission Amandla du 4 juillet dernier sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez la télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

Émission en anglais

Enjeux sociaux liés au SIDA au Botswana. Ces enjeux sont très liés à la situation du droit des femmes qui sont les personnes les plus affectées par le SIDA. Des ONG locales de femmes sont impliquées dans l’éducation et la dissémination de l’information sur le VIH/SIDA au sein de la population.Seun Kuti

Commentaires sur la performance du Seun Kuti (fils de Fela Kuti) au festival International de Jazz de Montréal. Voir photo ci-contre et un extrait vidéo de son spectacle plus bas.

The Ravaging of Africa: Militarizing Africa. Rediffusion d’une émission radio en quatre parties qui traite des impacts destructeurs de l’impérialisme américain en Afrique. “Militarizing Africa” décrit comment les États-Unis ont fomentés la guerre qui a dévasté la République Démocratique du Congo et planifié l’invasion de la Somalie par l’Éthiopie. Avec Mfuni Kazadi, Millicent Okumu, Farah Maalim et Halima Abdi Arush


Here are the subjects that were addressed in the July 4th Amandla radio show on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the show here (link valid for two months only).

Show in english.

Social issues related to HIV/AIDS in Botswana. They are closely linked to women rights since they are the most affected by AIDS. Women oriented NGOs are involved in education and dissemination of information on HIV/AIDS in the population.

Comments on Seun Kuti (Fela Kuti‘s son), performance at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. Here is a small piece of Kuti’s performance in Montreal:

The Ravaging of Africa: Militarizing Africa. It is four-part radio documentary series about the destructive impact of U.S. imperialism on Africa. “Militarizing Africa” describes how the United States has fomented the devastating war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as well as taken part in and engineered the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. With Mfuni Kazadi, Millicent Okumu, Farah Maalim and Halima Abdi Arush.

Cigarettes for the Nigerian children/ Des cigarettes pour les enfants Nigérians

After dubious pills, its is cigarettes that are offered to the Nigerian children

See below for the english version from the Times.

Après les pilules illégales voici les cigarettes qu’on offre aux enfants du Nigéria.

De La Presse de Montréal:

Deux cigarettiers ont mis en place une tactique pour compenser la chute des ventes de tabac dans les pays occidentaux. Philip Morris et British American Tobacco sont en effet accusés d’avoir fait campagne auprès des enfants du Nigeria pour booster leurs ventes, selon le Times.

Les avocats du plus grand état nigérian, Kano, vont tenter aujourd’hui de démontrer que les compagnies de tabac ont commandité des concerts et des événements sportifs, mais surtout, ils ont parfois distribué gratuitement des cigarettes à des mineurs.

Voici la nouvelle originale provenant du Times:

British American Tobacco (BAT) and Philip Morris face allegations that they targeted young and underage smokers in Nigeria to increase smoking rates in developing countries as sales decline in the West.London Times

Lawyers for Nigeria’s largest state, Kano, will argue today that the tobacco companies sponsored pop concerts and sporting events and, in some instances, gave away free cigarettes, to recruit minors to smoking.

Kano is one of four Nigerian states suing BAT Nigeria, its parent company in Britain and Philip Morris International to recover the costs of treating smoking-related diseases.

They are seeking damages of at least $38.6 billion (£19.1 billion).

Kano’s first hearing is today and cases in Gombe and Oyo begin tomorrow and Monday respectively. The Lagos case began in May and more states are expected to join.

“They want to prepare for a problem they know has already been created, as well as restrict the distribution of tobacco to young people,” said Babatunde Irukera, a lawyer representing the state governments. “The public health facilities are overtasked.”

The biggest increase in smoking in Nigeria has been among young people. The number of young women smokers grew tenfold between 1990 and 2001, according to the World Health Organisation.

A large part of the plaintiffs’ evidence will come from the tobacco companies’ internal documents, which were released as part of a multibillion-dollar settlement that the US tobacco industry reached with state governments in the 1990s. The documents, some of which have been seen by The Times, show the companies’ attempts to reach younger smokers by sponsoring well-known musicians, and their efforts to fight tobacco control initiatives.

Although there are laws banning tobacco advertising on billboards and on television and radio, there is no explicit legislation restricting the sale of cigarettes to underage smokers.

The plaintiffs argue that the youth market was and still is important to the tobacco industry, citing a Philip Morris USA report dated March 31, 1981, which says: “Today’s teenager is tomorrow’s potential regular customer, and the overwhelming majority of smokers first begin to smoke while still in their teens.”

A similar document prepared for BAT, dated July 25, 1991, discusses the habits of younger smokers in Nigeria. “New smokers enter the market at a very early age in many cases: as young as 8 or 9 years seems to be quite common,” according to the report, entitled The Cigarette Market in Nigeria.

A report prepared by the tobacco industry’s lobbying group in Nigeria, TACON, on October 18, 1981, detailed its strategy to defeat a Private Member’s Bill introduced in the House of Representatives to make provisions for warning cigarette smokers of the adverse health effects of smoking.

“It was decided that TACON’s main strategy should be to play down the health argument and concentrate instead on the economic,” the report said. “This proved to be the correct approach especially as Nigeria’s economy has been suffering . . . from the world recession.”

In an internal memo dated May 13, 1991, BAT talked about the use of Nigerian artists to promote its Benson & Hedges (B&H) brand, saying: “The young adult music platform of the B&H label is the type of image enhancement we need in Nigeria.”

Stephen Swedlow, an American lawyer who is advising the Nigerian state governments, told The Times: “The international tobacco companies have to develop these . . . markets because the smoking rates in the US and the UK have consistently dropped, based on litigation in the US and public health pressures in the UK.”

A spokeswoman for BAT said that the allegations were completely unfounded. “We don’t market to children and we have never attempted to do so,” she said. “We also actively lobby governments to raise the age at which people are allowed to buy tobacco to 18.”

A spokesman for Philip Morris said: “Philip Morris International and its affiliates do not currently sell cigarettes in Nigeria.”

Émissions Amandla du 20 et du 27 juin 2007/ Amandla shows from June 20th and 27th 2007

Voici les thèmes qui ont été abordés pendant les émissions Amandla du 20 et 27 juin dernier sur les ondes de CKUT 90.3FM (Montréal). Vous pouvez les télécharger ici (lien valide pour deux mois seulement).

Le 27 juin

Entrevue avec Béatrice Umutesi présentant son livre: “Fuir Umutesiou mourir au Zaïre. Le vécu d’une réfugiée rwandaise” – en français. Mme Umutesi est une ancienne réfugiée originaire du Rwanda qui s’enfuit au Zaïre suite au génocide rwandais. Elle travaillait comme coordonnatrice d’ONG avant de fuir au Zaïre. Elle découvre que le Front Patriotique Rwandais (FPR), mouvement de libération qui est aujourd’hui au pouvoir au Rwanda, aurait aussi perpétré des massacres contre les hutus pendant le génocide. La situation rwandaise a donc été plus confuse que ce qu’a bien voulu présenter la presse internationale. Paradoxalement, c’est le FPR que Mme Umutesi dut fuir. Elle quitte pour le Zaïre. Mais la guerre la rejoint avec des soldats du Rwanda qui traversent la frontière pour attaquer les camps de réfugiés. Mme Umutesi dut encore fuir marchant 2000 km dans la jungle congolaise pour trouver la paix.

Décès de Ousmane Sembène (photo plus bas) – en français et anglais. Icône du cinéma africain, né en Casamance (Sénégal). Revue de sa carrière et de sa vie. Il a écrit 5 romans, 5 recueils nouvelles et 14 films.

Les États-Unis cherchent une base pour l’AFRICOM – en anglais. Tel que présenté dans le blog, les pays d’Afrique du Nord refusent d’héberger l’AFRICOM sur leur territoire.


L’Union Européenne négocie une entente de libre-échange avec la CEDEAO (Communauté économique des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest) – en anglais. Une telle entente lierait l’une des plus riches régions du monde avec l’une des plus pauvre. Les négociations ne se font donc surement pas sur une base “d’égal à égal”. L’Europe pourrait avoir un accès total au marché de la CEDEAO.

Comment le monde arabe ignore le Darfour – en anglais. Analyse d’un article paru dans le New Internationalist, intitulé “Salaam Darfur”, et qui critique le silence et même le déni du monde arabe devant les événements du Darfur. Cet article a été écrit par deux activiste arabes: Moataz El Fegiery et Ridwan Ziyada.


Le 20 juin


Émission entièrement en anglais.

Commentaires sur les discussions entre le Front Polisario et le Maroc sous les auspices des Nations Unies – en anglais. Les discussions se sont faites sous les regards d’observateurs Algériens et Mauritaniens. Elles se sont tenues à la suite d’une résolution de l’ONU datant d’avril 2007. Jusqu’à maintenant, rien n’a bougé, si ce n’est la décision de continuer les discussions en août 2007. Pendant ce temps, une génération de réfugiés vit toujours en Algérie, et beaucoup d’entre eux n’ont jamais vu le Sahara Occidental.

Découverte du pétrole au Ghana – en anglais. Le Ghana espère exploiter son pétrole sans tomber dans le piège de la mauvaise gestion de la ressource.

SIDA et développement en Afrique – en anglais. SIDA et développement ont mauvaise presse en Afrique. Le SIDA n’est pas qu’un enjeu de santé publique, il bloque le développement économique. Même dans un pays riche comme le Botswana, il peut faire des ravages.

Grèves générales en Afrique du Sud – en anglais. L’Afrique Du Sud entre dans sa 18ème-19ème journée de grève générale alors que les syndicats et le gouvernement n’arrivent pas à s’entendre. Des reportages provenant du terrain sont présentés.

Here are the subjects that were addressed in the June 20th and 27th Amandla radio shows on CKUT 90.3 FM (Montreal). You can download the shows here (link valid for two months only).

June 27th

United States try to find an african base for AFRICOM – in english. Countries from Northern Africa don’t want the opening of the base. The subject was addressed in a previous post.

European Union wants to build a free trade deal with ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) – in english. This agreement could link one of the wealthiest zone of the world with the poorest countries of the world. This deal might not be negotiated in equal terms. Europe could have total access to the ECOWAS countries…

Death of Ousmane Sembène (see picture) – in english and french. Born in Casamance Ousmane Sembène(Senegal), he was the first african film director to have an international recognition. Review of his career and his life. He wrote 5 novels, 5 short story book, and 14 films. He died on June 10th 2007.

How the arab world ignores Darfur – in english. Analysis of an article from the New Internationalist (“Salaam darfur”) who criticizes the heavy silence and denial from the Arab world regarding the events occuring in Darfur. It was written by two arabic human rights activists: Moataz El Fegiery and Ridwan Ziyada.

Interview with Béatrice Umutesi author of the book: “Surviving the slaughter. The ordeal of a Rwandan refugee in Zaïre” – in french. Mrs Umutesi is a former Rwandan refugee who fled the genocide and went to Zaïre (today called Democratic Republic of Congo). She worked for an NGO before fleeing to Zaïre. She discovered that the Rwandan Patriotic Front (FPR), the liberation movement in Rwanda who’s now in power, also perpetrated mass murders against the Hutus during the genocide. The situation in Rwanda was therefore more complex than what the international medias depicted. Oddly enough, it’s the FPR Mrs Umutesi had to run from. She fled to Zaïre. But the war caught on her with Rwandan troops crossing the border and attacking refugee camps. She had to run into the jungle and walk 2000 km to find a safe place!

June 20th

Show entirely in english.

Comments on the talks between the Polisario and Morocco under United Nations’ auspices – in english. Talks were held between Morocco and Polisario front with observers from Algeria and Mauritania. They were held following a resolution from April 2007. So far, they lead to nothing concrete and they will continue in August 2007. Meanwhile, a generation of refugees still live in Algeria and most of them were born there and have never seen Western Sahara.

Oil found in Ghana – in english. Ghana hopes to exploit its oil without falling into mismanagement.

AIDS and development in Africa – in english. AIDS and development are treated negatively in Africa. AIDS isn’t just a health issue; it hinders economic development and social capabilities. Even in a rich african country like Botswana, it can be a really serious problem.

General strikes in South Africa – english. South Africa enters its 18-19th day of general strike as the unions and the government can’t find an agreement. Reports from the field are presented.

Voici un court vidéo d’Ousmane Sembène recevant “l’Akira Kurosawa” award au Festvial de film de SanFrancisco en 1993. Here is a short video of Ousmane Sembène receiving the Akira Kurosawa award at the 1993 San Francisco International Film Festival:

Les victimes du scandale du Probo Koala compensées/ Victims of the Probo Koala’s scandal compensated

Selon le journal L’Intelligent d’Abidjan, les victimes du déversement toxique du Probo Koala de septembre 2006 passé recevront des c0mpensations financières:

La présidence de la République a rendu publique officiellement le jeudi 21 Juin 2007 la répartition des fonds d’indemnisation des victimes des déchets toxiques. Selon le porte parole de la présidence de la République, Coulibaly Gervais, parmi les victimes à indemniser, il y a l’Etat de Côte d’Ivoire. Celui percevra pour les préjudices subis la somme de 5 Milliards 18 Millions de F CFA dont 30 Milliards au titre du remboursement des dépenses déjé effectuées par le Gouvernement lors de la survenue du sinistre. Pour les collectivités territoriales ayant, subies des préjudices économiques , sanitaires et écologiques, il sera notamment alloué au District d’Abidjan une indemnisation de 2 Milliards 500 Millions de F CFA et qui sera affecté à son assainissement. Toujours sur ce point, Abobo, Attécoubé, Cocody, Koumassi, Port-Bouet, Treichville, Bingerville, Djibi, Akouédo Attié et Akouédo village seront également indemnisés. En ce qui concerne les dommages économiques, le porte parole de la présidence a fait savoir que l’enveloppe globale s’élève à 3 Milliards 300 Millions de F CFA. A l’en croire, les victimes sanitaires au nombre de 101313 personnes percevront chacun 200000 F CFA . Quant à la famille des personnes décédées, il sera remis à chacune 100 million de Fcfa. Les listes des victimes seront affichées selon le successeur de Désiré Tagro le 27 juin prochain et le paiement commencera le lendemain.

  • Note: 10 F CFA = 0.02 CAN $.

Probo Koala
Victims of the Probo Koala toxic waste dumping will receive a compensation according to the BBC.


The Ivory Coast has announced details of compensation to victims of last year’s toxic waste scandal in Abidjan.

The families of 16 people who died when poisonous waste was dumped in the city will get $200,000 (£100,000) each, with $408 each to thousands who became ill.

But the amount is less than half the total allocated to the state.

The Dutch company which chartered the vessel that allegedly dumped the waste said it would pay $198m (£102m) to the government for a clean-up and inquiry.

The oil-trading group Trafigura agreed to pay the money in February but said it was not liable for what happened.

‘Intensely political’

Some of its compensation money was intended to upgrade medical and sanitary facilities, and some to compensate the state for its costs in cleaning up Abidjan.

President Laurent Gbagbo’s spokesman said the payments to victims were equal, irrespective of the age of the deceased, because it would be wrong to distinguish between the dead.

The 75 people who were hospitalised should receive about $4,000. Officials say the money will be made available from the middle of next week.

The BBC’s James Copnall in Abidjan says the public release of the compensation scheme will go some way to alleviating the criticism the government has faced on this issue.

Many people had worried that the state would simply pocket everything it received from Trafigura, he says.

But the fact that so much of the money goes to the state rather than individuals will certainly leave some people unhappy.

Victims associations have already complained. One told the BBC that they had not been consulted at any stage.

Our correspondent says at the time the scandal was intensely political in a country which is heavily divided following a civil war. All sides used the disaster as an opportunity to blame their rivals.

It is still believed that there is a substantial amount of toxic waste which has not been cleared up.

Local company

Trafigura first attempted to discharge the chemical slops from one of its tankers, the Probo Koala, in the Dutch port of Amsterdam in early August 2006.

But the company that was to dispose of the waste suddenly increased its charges dramatically – asking for more to treat the waste. Trafigura refused, and the tanker proceeded to Nigeria.

There it failed to reach an agreement with two local firms about offloading the waste and only in Ivory Coast did it find a company to handle the waste.

On 19 August the waste was discharged near Abidjan. Two weeks later the first complaints arose. Instead of being incinerated as it should have been, the waste had been dumped.

Trafigura said it had been given to a local accredited company in Abidjan’s main port to deal with properly.

Battue dans le métro et agonie à l’hôpital/ Beaten in the subway and agonizing in the hospital

Une histoire incroyable est relatée par La Presse de Montréal. L’événement se passe dans un hôpital de Los Angeles. Une personnes est malade dans la salle d’attente, on appelle le 911, mais personne dans l’hôpital, ni les employés du 911, ne réagissent.

Cela rappelle étrangement un événement qui s’est produit dans le métro de Montréal où un homme a battu sa femme sous les yeux des agents de sécurité qui n’ont rien fait! Pourquoi? Parce que la journée où cette agression s’est produite était celle ou la police de Montréal devait prendre en charge la sécurité du métro à la place du service de sécurité du métro. Ce blogue en parle.

Les problèmes de l’individualisme mais surtout du syndrome de “ce-n’est-pas-ma-juridiction” de la part des services publics doivent être posés.

La Presse:

L’appel fait au 911 est arrivé peu avant 2h du matin. L’enregistrement n’est pas de la meilleure qualité, mais la conversation est claire.

«Ma femme est par terre en train de mourir et les infirmières l’ignorent!» dit un homme, pris de panique.

Après avoir compris que le couple se trouve dans un hôpital, le préposé du 911 lui répond de contacter un docteur ou une infirmière.

«Je ne peux pas envoyer les ambulanciers pour la chercher. Votre femme est déjà à l’hôpital», dit le préposé.

Au bout d’un moment, l’homme raccroche.

Huit minutes plus tard, une femme non identifiée appelle au 911.

«Il y a une femme qui gémit par terre, les infirmières ne font rien.»

«Madame, vous devez contacter la direction de l’hôpital si vous avez une plainte. Le 911 est réservé aux appels d’urgence.»

«Non, vous ne comprenez pas. C’est une urgence.»

«Non, madame, ce n’est pas une urgence.»

«Oui, c’est une urgence.»

«Non, ce n’est pas une urgence.»

«Que dieu vous condamne pour avoir agi comme vous venez d’agir», dit la femme, avant de raccrocher.

«Non, négatif madame. C’est à vous que ça devrait arriver», lui répond le préposé du 911.

Edith Isabel Rodriguez, 43 ans, est morte 30 minutes plus tard, seule, sur le plancher de la salle d’attente du Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital, à Los Angeles. Elle laisse dans le deuil trois enfants, un mari estomaqué, et des millions de concitoyens incrédules, qui se demandent aujourd’hui comment pareille absurdité a pu se produire en 2007, en plein coeur d’une métropole américaine.

Edith Isabel Rodriguez a visité l’hôpital plusieurs fois durant les jours précédant sa mort, dans la nuit du 9 mai.

À chaque visite, elle se plaignait de maux de ventre difficiles à supporter. Le 8 mai, un médecin a diagnostiqué des pierres aux reins, lui prescrivant des antidouleurs et du repos. Elle était rentrée à la maison, mais la douleur est devenue si insupportable que Mme Rodriguez est retournée aux urgences en pleine nuit. Elle s’est effondrée devant l’entrée de l’hôpital.

Ce sont des policiers qui l’ont trouvée là. Ils l’ont assise dans un fauteuil roulant et l’ont amenée à l’intérieur. Selon le rapport des policiers, une infirmière a dit à la patiente: «Vous avez déjà été vue par un médecin. Il n’y a rien d’autre que l’on puisse faire pour vous.»

Dans l’esprit du personnel ce soir-là, Mme Rodriguez était une patiente qui se plaint pour rien. Elle est donc restée dans son fauteuil roulant, ignorée de tous. Au bout de 15 minutes, elle s’est couchée par terre en position foetale, hurlant de douleur, et s’est mise à vomir du sang.

Une caméra de surveillance a filmé Mme Rodriguez au sol. La vidéo montre un concierge en train de passer la serpillière autour d’elle, nettoyant le plancher avant de quitter la salle.

Son conjoint, Jose Prado, est arrivé et l’a vue par terre. Il a tenté d’aller chercher une infirmière et d’alerter le 911. Sans succès.

Edith Isabel Rodriguez est morte quelques minutes plus tard. Une autopsie a révélé qu’elle avait succombé à une perforation de l’intestin. Elle avait passé 45 minutes par terre sans que personne n’intervienne.

Enquête du L.A.Times

Situé dans le quartier Watts, Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital est surtout fréquenté par des Noirs et les latinos. Les rues du secteur ne sont pas sûres, de jour comme de soir. D’innombrables patients arrivent avec des blessures de balles, résultats des fusillades entre gangs, qui sont monnaie courante dans le secteur.

La mort de Mme Rodriguez a péniblement rappelé aux résidants de Los Angeles à quel point leur ville est divisée par des frontières raciales et socio-économiques. Un tel drame n’aurait pu se produire dans un quartier habité par des riches, ou par des gens de la classe moyenne.

«Je suis estomaqué, a dit le superviseur du comté, Zev Yaroslavsky, en conférence de presse. La vidéo montre que personne n’a fait son travail correctement. Cette femme était vraisemblablement en douleur. Pourquoi personne n’a rien fait? C’est scandaleux.»

C’est une enquête du Los Angeles Times qui a permis de rendre publics les détails de l’histoire et les bandes sonores du 911 la semaine dernière. Depuis, l’infirmière responsable du triage qui était de garde ce soir-là a donné sa démission. Le directeur de l’établissement a été «réassigné à d’autres tâches», selon un communiqué émis par l’hôpital.

Le frère de la victime, Eddie Sanchez, est encore sous le choc. «C’est incroyable de faire ça à quelqu’un. C’est inhumain» a-t-il dit à La Presse.

M. Sanchez s’est rendu devant le Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital lundi pour donner des entrevues aux médias. Selon lui, le centre hospitalier a perdu toute crédibilité dans cette affaire. «Ils ont traité ma soeur comme une moins que rien. On ne laisse pas les gens se tordre de douleur par terre comme ça. Il va falloir qu’il y ait des changements dans cet hôpital.»

Pour Najee Ali, organisateur communautaire dans le quartier Watts, l’hôpital devrait être fermé temporairement, le temps d’entraîner le personnel et de changer d’administration. «Quand on voit un degré d’incompétence pareil, c’est la seule chose qui puisse être faite pour regagner la confiance des gens.»

La direction de l’hôpital, qui n’accorde pas d’entrevues aux médias, a 30 jours pour faire des changements, sans quoi les fonds fédéraux seront suprimés et l’établissement devra fermer ses portes.

La Presse de Montral picks up the story of the L.A. Times about a lady who died in a hospital waiting room where nobody helped her. The 911 service was called but nobody helped there either. It bears a ressemblanc with what happened in the Montreal metro recently where a man beat his wife under the eyes of the metro security who did nothing. That’s what happens when jurisdiction problems becomes more important than saving and helping persons in distress (the metro security was supposed to be replaced by the city police that day). See the story on CBC:

Montreal subway security guards had no choice but to stand by and watch a woman being beaten up by her partner at a downtown station because police now oversee the transit system, says the president of the guards’ union.

The incident occurred at the Berri-UQAM metro stop on Monday, the same day Montreal police announced they were taking over patrolling the public system.