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The Sense Of Accountability

Indian ministers and political leaders should learn a lesson from former Health Minister of Portugal Dr Marta Temido. In India, thousands of people die every day, due to medical negligence. However, neither the hospital authority, nor the Government owns up responsibility for those deaths. It is because the political leaders are well aware of the fact that the majority of the people hardly remember such incidents in this hugely populated South Asian country. Even the Government does not take any action against doctors for their negligence.

However, the scenario is completely different in Developed Nations, where medical practitioners, as well as politicians, have to pay a heavy price for negligence in the healthcare sector. Dr Temido, the Health Minister of Portugal, resigned from her office on August 30, 2022 after she was criticised for her handling of a situation involving the death of a pregnant Indian tourist and the overall healthcare services in the Southwestern European country. She tendered her resignation just five hours after the death of the pregnant lady in Lisbon.

Dr Marta Temido

BBC has reported that the Indian lady did not receive proper medical care, after falling ill in Portugal. Even the Maternity Ward of Santa Maria Hospital refused to admit her. The lady eventually perished without receiving a proper treatment. Within five hours of this incident, the Health Minister tendered resignation from her post. In a statement, Dr Temido said that she “no longer has the conditions” to exercise the position. Prime Minister of Portugal António Costa accepted her resignation, and informed President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa that he would appoint a new Health Minister on September 15.

The local media reported that the pregnant Indian lady breathed her last while being transferred from Santa Maria Hospital in Lisbon to another hospital. Although Santa Maria is the largest hospital in Portugal, its Neonatal Department had no vacancy for new patients. The 31-week pregnant tourist, who complained of breathlessness, had a cardiac arrest on her way to the Sao Francisco Xavier Hospital. CPR was carried out on the way; however, doctors at the second hospital failed to revive her.

Meanwhile, the lady delivered a baby, following an emergency Cesarean section, at Sao Francisco Xavier Hospital. The baby, who weighed over 700 grams, was then placed in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for treatment due to its natal state. Hospital de Santa Maria issued a statement, mentioning that the mother died while she was in the hospital. Later, the Health Ministry launched a probe into her death.

Portugal has witnessed similar incidents, in recent times. Two infants died in separate incidents after their mothers were transferred to other hospitals. Dr Miguel Guimarães, the President of the Portuguese Medical Association, stated that the Health Minister resigned because she failed to solve the current crisis in the healthcare sector.

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