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‘We demand cancer patients’ right to dignity’

Stakeholders raise questions over recent Cabinet decisions on cancer patients

By Renad Aljadid - Jun 23,2018 - Last updated at Jun 24,2018

The Friends of Cancer Patients Association and the Higher National Committee for Supporting Cancer Patients hold a press conference on the Cabinet's new decisions on Saturday in Amman (Photo courtesy of Dawood Shaheen)

AMMAN — "The government spends over JD2 billion on the health sector, which is a good amount of money. Yet, the dissatisfaction of citizens and patients is clear," stated Fadia Samara, secretary general of the patient protection coalition, adding: "We value the government's new decisions on cancer patients, but we want clear and announced implementation mechanisms, which are even more important than the decisions themselves."

In a press conference held by the Friends of Cancer Patients Association and the Higher National Committee for Supporting Cancer Patients on Saturday, Samara raised several questions to the new Cabinet over the latest decisions on the matter, including health insurance coverage for all cancer patients, issuing cards to facilitate patients referrals to medical institutions as well as giving hospital directors the authority to refer patients without having to go through special medical committees.

"The government should consider improving the 'poor' infrastructure of some medical institutions so as to ensure their readiness to receive all the insured patients," Samara said, adding: "We hope that all medical institutions will be as efficient and as qualified as the King Hussein Cancer Centre in order to achieve justice among the patients who receive their treatment in other institutions." 

"We are not undermining other medical institutions but we hope to see them refurbished and rehabilitated to better serve the patients and protect their dignity," she stressed.

Samara also said that the new implementation mechanisms should be patient-friendly, which entails respecting their privacy, facilitating the treatment measures, putting an end to bureaucracy, and "humanising" the treatment process. This requires training the medical staff on how to deal with cancer patients and provide them with the needed psychological support, she said.

"Many hospitals make the examinations for patients while rooms are full with other patients, which does not respect their privacy," the secretary general explained, adding "sometimes, patients have to wait in long lines just to get their medications while no waiting rooms with seats are available". 

Mousa Al Ryashat, director of the Friends of Cancer Patients Association, voiced his hopes to see the new decisions also include Gazan people, as well as children of Jordanian mothers but non-Jordanian fathers.

The press conference also commented on a recent viral video that purportedly shows one of the MPs commenting with disagreement over the new Cabinet decisions, describing them as "unnecessary" and claiming that they "would burden the national budget" as, he says, "cancer patients would die anyway".

"We reject any abuse against cancer patients or prejudging them with death as there are many success stories that prove otherwise," Samara commented.

For a cancer patient who was attending the conference: "We know that we are all eventually going to die whether we are cancer patients or not, but we demand the right to live with dignity and receive our right to treatment".

Samara stressed that they are "highly appreciative" of the "unprecedented" move on behalf of the new government in placing cancer patients on the top of its priorities, but she voiced hopes to see the civil society in general and patients in particular, participate in the decision-making process and be involved in the dialogue over the decisions that affect their lives.

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