Why are we there?
- Access to healthcare
- Bahrain: MSF concerned at healthcare access
- Bahrain: MSF condemns armed raid on its offices
- Bahrain: MSF staff member remains detained
Despite authorities’ efforts at reforms, recommended by the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry after the violence of 2011, many people are still not seeking medical care in public hospitals.
The healthcare system in Bahrain is of excellent quality, but it is still grappling with the consequences of being caught up in political unrest. Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) had sought to assist people unable to access medical attention, but its first aid post was closed in July 2011.
An MSF team remained in the country until March 2012, aware that hundreds of people were still not going to public hospitals for treatment. In March, staff members were refused entry to the country, and activities had to be suspended.
Hoping to return to Bahrain, staff worked from Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, submitting proposals for activities to the Bahraini Ministry of Health. These included providing technical support in emergency preparedness and mental healthcare, as well as accompanying patients to health facilities to ensure that they and staff act in compliance with universally recognised medical ethics.
In May, MSF held a mental health workshop in Dubai, attended by medical professionals from the Bahraini government and opposition. MSF personnel were allowed into the country from June 2012, but negotiations to launch activities failed. MSF’s principal concerns are comprehensive mental healthcare and patients’ access to services.
At the end of 2011, MSF had three staff in Bahrain. MSF started working in the country in 2011.
Abdul*, 29 years old
“I stayed in Salmaniya for five days after I was wounded in the protests. The police used to come into the ward regularly to prevent us from sleeping. They would come in with masks and sticks. It was scary. They would come at 1am and hit us.
"I begged the doctor to discharge me. I wanted to leave. It was not safe for me in the hospital. When I tried to run away, I was arrested by the police. I was taken to a police station where I was blindfolded and beaten.
"They finally let me go at 3am. I found a nurse to treat me at home. If I go back to the hospital now to get more treatment they will ask me how I got these wounds and then beat me more.”
When the MSF team examined Abdul during a medical assessment, he was suffering from pain in his chest and had difficulty using his right hand, which had been bound.
* The patient’s name has been changed.