Threats to a journalist who relays experiences of Bosnian Citizens with health care during the epidemic

Sarajevo – Merima Spahic, a former journalist who has been working for the last five years to promote the Law on Patients’ Rights in the non-governmental sector, has launched a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, “Freedom to the People,” in which citizens talk about the state of the Bosnia and Herzegovina at coronavirus epidemic time and there exchange the information.

“I first started posting an amateur video on my Facebook profile, taken with a mobile phone, trying to convince myself of the truth of our citizens’ claims that it is not possible to get medical help in Sarajevo and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina if you suspect you have been infected with a virus corona,” said Merima Spahic. for the Beta Agency, whose longtime correspondent was.

Crisis Staff has released citizen phone numbers, but phone lines are generally busy, hard to get. “And when someone answers, the call is generally in vain because you will not receive any adequate information. I was in self-isolation, took the phone in my hands and started to make phone calls,” she stated.

First, according to a protocol communicated to the citizens, she called the Health Center to which she belongs, where she was told to call the Epidemiological Service, and at that service she was told to call the Clinical Center in Sarajevo, while from that institution she was told to call the “Isolatory”. at the Clinical Center, and there they said they were “not competent and that I should call my Health Center and Epidemiological Service.”

“For the most part, I convinced myself that it was not possible to be tested for the coronavirus or to receive any assistance, because the phone numbers I would call would only be changed and the ball would be transferred to other institutions,” Spahic said.

She wondered what was going on with people who were infected, in poor health, how capable they were of calling those phones, which proved to be a futile job, regardless of persistence.

“I posted the video and there was an ‘explosion’ of calls and messages from citizens asking me to publish their stories and experiences,” Spahic said, stating that there are hundreds, maybe thousands of messages a day.

So she decided to launch a new profile, Freedom to the People, where she would regularly publish stories and experiences of citizens. She hopes that authorities will follow her page to serve as a corrective and to understand that, as she said, “it is finally time to drastically change the course of their actions.” She believes that there is no doubt that there is a problem in communication between citizens and health care institutions, and that “a huge number of people are left to themselves.”

Asked what to do, Spahic said that the so-called crisis headquarters should be led by experts.

However, “party employment” and the decades-long collapse of the health system in Bosnia have now led to deep problems, difficulties in supporting patients, “citizens who fund that health system,” Spahic said.

She also mentioned cases of corruption in health care, dubious public procurement, and “as any director of health care institutions changed, so he publicly called the previous one for multi-million fraud.”

She recalled that in Sarajevo oncological patients protested two years ago claiming their rights, and there were cases of refusal of treatment, as a few months ago at the Sarajevo University Clinical Center with a severely ill girl whose father reported it. But, according to Spahic, the situation is different now, “now things will change and I am sure that nothing will be as it was before”.

Merima Spahic is working on a petition on behalf of two thousand citizens, who demand from public health institutions equal treatment for all, regardless of political affiliation – as defined by the Patient Rights Act.

She stated that “politicians who showed no symptoms of the disease were immediately tested for the Coronavirus but were not citizens who eventually died of the disease.”

Because of her work, Merima Spahic has started receiving threats from lawsuits and police.

“I recorded the statement of the son of a woman from Sarajevo who had been asking the family doctor for 12 days, the epidemiological service and all other instances, asking for someone to examine her because she had all the symptoms of the coronavirus and had only just arrived from Turkey,” she said. .

“After wandering around, looking for the right address, looking for ‘connections’, the woman was admitted to KCUS after 12 days in a serious condition. When tested, the test showed that she was positive for Covid 19,” said Spahic from the contents of her article.

But the woman’s family medicine doctrine, whose name was not mentioned in that attachment published by Merima Spahic, recognized herself and announced the lawsuit through a lawyer.

“It is unfortunate that doctors are now dealing with unimportant matters at a time when patients are most in need of healthcare,” Spahic said.

“I think this is mostly about ill health in Bosnia,” she said, adding that once a health care system was missed, someone would be held criminally responsible, “but only if the citizens are in solidarity and unity, and this is the right time to do so.”

Source: Beta Agency

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