Friend of deceased asylum seeker: Treatment was delayed until it was too late

According to friends, an asylum seeker who lived at Hennala reception centre and died during the night between Tuesday 6 June and Wednesday 7 June did not receive the healthcare he needed in Finland.

The asylum seeker, who lived at Hennala reception centre, had Finnish friends. Photo: Mirja Hussai
“I have his patient records that plainly state that the necessary tests will not be performed before his asylum decision”, says a Finnish woman who knew the deceased young man well.
She says the man’s treatment was delayed until it was too late.

Legal obligation to provide treatment

According to the law, reception centres provide asylum seekers certain basic services, one of which is healthcare. All asylum seekers aged at least 18 are entitled to urgent treatment. Urgent treatment refers to immediate assessment and treatment required by sudden illness, injury, worsening of a chronic condition, or impaired functioning capacity that cannot be delayed without the disease or injury becoming worse. Asylum seekers are also entitled to other health services considered essential by professionals; these may include maternity welfare clinic or child welfare clinic services, contraceptive services and essential treatment for chronic conditions. A doctor always decides on assessments.

Suvi Komu, deputy manager of the Hennala reception centre, says this was also done in the case of the asylum seeker who lived in Hennala; however, the man died at hospital. The Finnish Immigration Service Migri also confirms that they were aware of the young man’s case and that he had received treatment.

“That is not true. Everyone knows he did not receive his medication”, the Finnish woman says.
The deceased young man had Wilson’s disease and took permanent medication for the condition when he arrived in Finland. In Wilson’s disease, copper accumulates in the patient’s liver. The man nevertheless ran out of medication in Finland. The doctor at Hennala refused to prescribe more medication as this would have required taking a biopsy of the young man’s liver; the biopsy was not taken because he had not been granted asylum. Later, he received his medication and the biopsy was taken, but it was too late. The Finnish woman says the young man became ill last autumn.
“He was transported several times from Hennala to hospital by ambulance because of attacks. Now, towards the end, a doctor at the central hospital appealed to the Finnish Immigration Service that asylum had to be arranged”, the woman says.

Who will pay for transporting the corpse back to Iraq?

The man, who feared for his life, signed papers last week to say he would return to Iraq voluntarily. His return flight would have been on Tuesday, but the frail man was no longer allowed to fly. He died during the night.

The dead man’s friends in Finland have sent his documents for a review. This requires a power of attorney from his family in Iraq as he had no relatives in Finland. Simultaneously, another battle is being fought to transport his corpse back to Iraq.

“Hennala has stated that nothing will be paid. The embassy of Iraq will pay part of the transport, and we will try to collect the rest. Transport will cost about 3,300 euros.”
The Finnish woman says that all of the man’s friends are shocked and angry about the case. They believe the actions of the reception centre and the Finnish Immigration Service should be scrutinised.

“Ultimately, how much would the medication have cost compared to what happened now? He was hospitalised several times and finally died at the hospital”, the Finnish woman asks.

Emmi Tuomisto
emmi.tuomisto@mediataloesa.fi
Etelä-Suomen Sanomat, 8 June 2017 

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