Hospitals ignore closure notices
Amal al Yarisi (author), Amal al Yarisi (photographer)
According to a statement released by the MPHP on August 12, only eight of the 62 private hospitals in Sana’a met the ministry’s standards.
In a previous interview with the Yemen Times, Yemen’s minister of health, Dr. Ahmed Al-Ansi explained that the MPHP classified Yemen’s private hospitals into three categories: hospitals that met all health stands; hospitals that met 80 percent of standards or more and were given three months to meet the rest; and hospitals that met less than 80 percent of the standards and were ordered to close down.
Nine hospitals fell into the second category, meeting over 80 percent of requirements. They were given a three-month grace period to meet the rest of the requirements. The remaining seven were ordered closed. Each of the seven were given notice on Aug. 25 and given three days to shut their doors to the public.
Those seven hospitals are: Al-Salam, Al-Madina, Sharha, Women and Children’s Hospital, Al-Sahab, Khalifa Bin Zaied and the Shaher Al-Shibani Surgery Center.
The MPHP told the Yemen Times that the ministry is only responsible for issuing the order. Enforcement is the responsibility of the Ministry of Interior, which is tasked with contacting the appropriate police forces to carry out the closures.
The Women and Children’s hospital was notified that it had failed and was ordered to be shut down within three days of the notification. Its license was cancelled, and it was fined YR500,000, about $2,300.
“We released the names of the seven hospitals to inform the public so that they could refrain from going there for treatment,” Al-Ansi said.
The Yemen Times visited the hospital on August 28 and found it nearly deserted. The reception hall, emergency area, surgical center and gynecology department were virtually empty. Seven nurses were seated in the reception areas, watching television.
The Women and Children’s Hospital manager, Nasser Al-Shabi, told the Yemen Times that a committee sent by MPHP visited the hospital and produced a report that outlined several violations, concluding that the hospital was inadequate to operate as a hospital specialized in obstetrics and gynecology.
Though the hospital is still operating, the “number of patients [has] decreased following the MPHP’s announcement,” Al-Shabi said.
Al-Shabi questioned the ministry’s decision, insisting that his hospital is a high-quality facility with a surgical center and medical equipment unavailable at other institutions that were not ordered shut.
A copy of the violations and the order to close provided to the Yemen Times reveals that the hospital, which says it is specialized in gynecology and obstetrics, had only five beds in the delivery ward. The surgical room at the hospital had no proper ventilation system, only a fan, and pipes from the bathrooms leak in the hospital’s yard.
Al-Shabi said the hospital needs more than three days to meet requirements.
“We need a month at least,” he said, “because there are patients in the hospital and we can’t [yet] discharge them.”
He told the Yemen Times that the hospital is intending to install a central ventilation system.
Two infants were in the nursery unit on Aug. 28, the deadline for the hospital to shut its doors to the public.
Suad Al-Haj is the proud grandmother of one of those infants. She intended to take her daughter-in-law to the state-run Al-Sabeen Hospital but decided on the private Women and Children’s Hospital because the public hospital was “overwhelmed with women in labor.”
She told the Yemen Times that she had no complaints about the Women and Children’s Hospital.
Al-Sahab Hospital has also kept its doors open, despite order to shut down.
The hospital is discussing the matter with the MPHP, said Salah Al Kalal, the executive and financial manager of the hospital.
“We will not shut down the hospital, the decision was unfair,” Al Kalal said.
Al Kalal said the hospital was ordered shut after the committee sent by the MPHP found the surgical room locked and unavailable for inspection.
“We are currently expanding and renovating the building,” he explained.
Taxi driver Abu Husam wondered how the hospitals operated as long as they did, since they don’t meet or care about government regulations and standards, he said.
“These hospitals do not care about the health of patients. They only care about money.”
Al-Ansi said that the lack of emergency rooms was a common violation, as well as a lack of basic, essential surgical appliances and staff. Many of the building were not appropriate for accommodating patients, he added.
“It is a grave violation that these hospitals continue to operate despite being ordered to shut down,” Al-Ansi said.
Doctors worry that the closing of seven private hospitals could lead to overcrowding of the state-run hospitals, including Al Thawara, Al Sabeen and Al Jamhouri.
Al Thawara Hospital manager Dr. Abdulkareem Al-Khawlani said that despite offering services to the public and in turn, reducing the potential overcrowding of public hospitals, that these facilities are not performing a public service because “they are performing in a way that court others’ lives,” he said.
Al-Khawlani commended the ministry’s efforts.
“Inspections must continue into all hospitals and facilities so that they can [meet standards],” Al-Khawlani said.