Ella Tannous' controversial story is still making headlines today, as the public rushes to her support and continues to contest legal liability.
In the following lines, Assafir newspaper traces the opinion of former MP Ismail Sukkarieh who has been monitoring pharmaceutical and medical cases in Lebanon.
Corruption and crime toll in the health sector, as well as its ramifications, have spiraled over decades, accompanied by denial and a 'redundant verbiage' policy to douse public anxieties.
Most of the political-financial kingpins have been guarding the enterprise, making sure that they weaned off culpability, and tamed all institutions, including the judiciary, amid a social obligation for credulity, and the civic community’s distinct inability at defending people’s rights to health.
Ella’s case presented itself under such a context, entrenched by the media’s depiction of her tragic accident and prosecution of Dr. Issam Maalouf without any founded research into the direct and indirect “medical-pharmaceutical” causes that usually lead to physical impairment or deformation.
The media’s war of words succeeded in stirring the public craze and provoking the doctor’s syndicate, and the judiciary fell victim to the ministerial campaign for selective –cosmetic reforms.
Ella’s case is definitely hard to justify but, at the same time, the people's emotional convulsions and reactions do not validate the arbitrary imprisonment of Dr. Maalouf before a scientific investigation could be completed, nor assent to the media’s disgraceful portrayal of the doctor in handcuffs on live television with the occasional back pinch.
In Fact, Ella’s case has helped reveal that:
1. In terms of Heath politics, three or two out of 22 university Hospitals actually fit the medical standards.
Simply put, the lack of neonatal intensive care unit in one of the hospitals triggered the disease’s acute exacerbation while the other failed to counter it with the necessary scientific treatment.
As to the reasons behind this academic ambition, it is merely a commercial propaganda where most medics sell their medicines under the pretext of scientific research.
As per the medical emergency system: It is nonexistent, sadly recalling the Kuawiti grant that vanished into thin air.
And to add to injury, the ministry-hospitals' agreement remains unimplemented, an agreement that obliges every hospital to admit and treat all emergency patients without question.
2. The Doctors’ Syndicate disciplinary decisions against violating doctors failed to consolidate enough credibility through its adoption of mild and patched up decisions, a recurrent scene which has inevitably weakened its stature before the people.
Unfortunately, the syndicate has been stricken by the politics' 'virus' and has ever since delineated from its objective conduct.
Now, amendments must be made so as to liberate the disciplinary councils from the throes of political influences. A fresh independent and scientific committee of a high caliber must be formed if the Syndicate were to ramp up its request over a doctor’s immunity.
3. The judiciary is expected to act more freely and justly, unchained by pressure. Only then would its verdicts foil the many deliberately committed mistakes.
4. As to Dr. Issam Maalouf, he has been unluckily cornered between the 'university hospital' and the 'vicious virus,' but will bear his share of the responsibility as the investigation will show.
5. The media has been a key factor in the delivery of information and facts to the people, turning the medicine 'file' into a 'cause.' However, it has stooped into a futile race for suspense and scandals as of late, without delving into a comprehensive research for facts.
The sad wedding is now over but the plight and sorrows of Ella and Dr. Maalouf linger on.
Everyone is back to their initial position in anticipation of another buzz so as to trigger a similar reaction of epidemic proportion that would only ring even hollower.
Ella’s predicament tells the tragedy of nation that is closer to being an open market than a real state.
This opinion piece was originally written in Arabic for al-Safir newspaper by Former MP Dr. Ismail Sukkarieh