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15.05.2008 Health

Ghanaian woman in coma denied medical care in London

By Daily Graphic
Ghanaian woman in coma denied medical care in London
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A young Ghanaian woman resident in the United Kingdom (UK) who has fallen into coma is being denied medical treatment at a hospital in London because of her illegal immigration status.

For the past two weeks, Emelia Frimpong, 28, has been at the Whipps Cross University Hospital in North London without treatment. The hospital authorities are waiting for 'cash down' before treatment could begin on her condition, which has been diagnosed as tuberculosis of the bone.

Last Monday, her condition deteriorated and she has since been in coma.

Ms Frimpong has been bedridden since February this year after a long admission at the Royal London Hospital in East London.

UK immigration laws do not favour illegal immigrants who seek medical treatment without paying for the service.

Ms Frimpong, who has apparently overstayed her entry clearance for about a year, entered the UK for a visit about six years ago but was taken ill shortly afterwards.

Friends and well-wishers have applied to regularise her stay in the UK on compassionate and health grounds but the Home Office has not responded to the application.

It was learnt that attempts were also made by the UK immigration authorities to remove Ms Frimpong from the hospital because she had flouted the country's immigration laws, despite her worsening conditions.

Those attempts were, however, thwarted by some health authorities who failed to sign the removal documents at the hospital.

Mr Percy Kobbina, a well-wisher, told the Daily Graphic that Emelia, who is also known as Emelia Cromwell, a former student of the Ghana National College in Cape Coast, was treated during the early stages of the disease.

“The issue of immigration documentation came in when she needed therapy and other forms of expensive medication,” he noted.

He said before the illness, Ms Frimpong had enrolled at the South Bank University to read Education because “she wanted to be a teacher to regularise her stay”.

Efforts to mobilise funds for her return by well-wishers proved futile until her life was threatened before a Good Samaritan informed the Ghana High Commission of her situation.

At the Currie Ward of the hospital, Emelia, who is believed to come from Saltpond in the Central Region, lay flat and helpless, without any attention from health workers.

The hospital authorities are demanding an undisclosed amount of money (deposit) before attention could be given to the dying woman.

The Ghanaian community in the UK has condemned the action of the hospital, with some of them wondering why the National Health Service (NHS) of the UK did not have room for such situations, in view of the heterogeneous nature of the country.

The Ghana High Commission in the UK has acted promptly to save the situation.

The High Commissioner, Mr Annan Cato, told the Daily Graphic that Emelia's family and the government of Ghana had been informed about her condition and that he was anxiously waiting for a response.

He said the High Commission could only act on instructions from Accra and perhaps the response from the family, adding that “unfortunately, the government does not make funds available to the embassies for such purposes.

Hitherto, missions' budgets included such moneys but I am afraid not now,” he said.

Mr Cato revealed that the Ghana government always requested the families of such victims to provide funds, while it made travel arrangements to get the victims back home or helped them continue with medication in the country of incident.

When asked what would happen if the family did not have anything to provide, he said that was a hypothetical question, “but we shall all help in our own small way to rescue the situation”.

He was also quick to add that the situation called for a swift intervention from the government but expressed the concern that “this must be an isolated case because immediately you do it for her, many more demands will come now or in the future and the precedent today will not help all of us”.

The High Commissioner expressed optimism that the UK authorities would not remove Emelia, given her present condition, and wished her speedy recovery.

For the past 24 hours, the Daily Graphic has been making frantic efforts to ascertain the truth or otherwise of the issue from the hospital authorities but to no avail.

Source: Daily Graphic

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