x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Women in labour turned away after no gynaecologist on duty

Couple told to travel more than an hour away to a private hospital because the government facility had no working gynaecologist.

UMM AL QAIWAIN // Abudrahman Ibrahim brought his pregnant wife to Umm al Qaiwain Hospital when she was about to deliver their baby.

But they were told to travel more than an hour away to a private hospital because the government facility had no working gynaecologist.

"She was suffering, and Sheikh Khalifa Hospital were giving us an appointment the next day," Mr Ibrahim said. "We moved to GMC hospital in Ajman, and she delivered from there."

Rashid Seif described a similar fate when he brought his pregnant wife to Umm al Qaiwain Hospital, also in December and about to deliver.

"We were asked to go to Sheikh Khalifa Hospital, and when we reached there it was full," he said. "We had to take her to a private hospital in Ajman and pay very high prices that we had not planned for."

Several men were asked to take their wives to Ras al Khaimah for treatment or Ajman's Sheikh Khalifa Hospital.

The incidents highlight the lack of healthcare services in the Northern Emirates, a situation that the FNC has criticised, and that the Ministry of Health is working to improve by opening healthcare centres in the area this year.

Back in December, however, Mr Seif and his pregnant wife found themselves inconvenienced and out of pocket.

Mr Seif said he and his wife spent about Dh8,000 for a delivery in Ajman. In the past, he said, he had spent Dh2,500 for a delivery at the Umm al Qaiwain Hospital.

Leaking roofs during the rainy season, a shortage of physicians, continuing maintenance and a lack of space to admit new patients have compounded patients' frustrations.

A spokesman for the Umm al Qaiwain Hospital said the facility had only two gynaecologists on staff in December. One of them was on annual leave and the other was on sick leave.

The maternity ward reopened last month with the appointment of four gynaecologists.

Three more gynaecologists will join them in the coming weeks, according to Dr Rashid Obaid al Shehhi, the hospital's deputy director.

The new appointments were made on the directives of Dr Hanif Hassan, the Minister of Health, and have increased the number of gynaecologists to nine, enough to handle delivery cases in the emirate, he said.

Last year, the hospital's obstetrics ward was partially closed because of water leaking from the seasonal rains.

Health officials promised to rectify the problem but there have been no rains this year to prove their assertion.

ykakande@thenational.ae