September 04, 2014
An asylum seeker who developed septicaemia after cutting his foot at the Manus Island offshore processing centre has been declared brain dead in a Brisbane hospital, a refugee advocacy group says.
Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul said Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Kehazaei sought medical attention for days on Manus Island for the pain and infection.
It is believed Mr Kehazaei, who was among the first immigration detainees transferred to Manus Island last year, cut his foot three weeks ago.
Last Wednesday, he was flown to Port Moresby, then into intensive care in Brisbane’s Mater Hospital.
Mr Rintoul said authorities took too long to act, and the 24-year-old had a heart attack before being declared brain dead on Tuesday.
He remains on life support. A decision is expected to be made today as to whether the support system will be switched off.
Nothing else to describe it, but it is just sheer negligence.Ian Rintoul, Refugee Action Coalition
The Immigration Department said the chief medical officer was reviewing the background to Mr Kehazaei’s condition and the medical care he received while on Manus Island.
Mr Rintoul said Mr Kehazaei was a victim of “the shocking conditions and medical neglect on Manus Island”.
“It is inexcusable that he developed septicaemia on Manus Island,” Mr Rintoul said.
“Nothing else to describe it, but it is just sheer negligence.
“There are scores of infections on Manus Island, and many complaints of the lack of medical attention. Asylum seekers on Manus Island are often forced to walk through raw sewage.”
Mr Rintoul said a guardian would be appointed to decide whether treatment should be withdrawn.
He said the family had indicated Mr Kehazaei’s organs should be donated if possible.
A spokeswoman for the Immigration Minister said the Government was following normal processes for the transferee.
“The individual has not died. In respect to the family of the individual further details are not able to be provided,” the spokeswoman said.
“The Government is following normal processes for the adult male transferee. The family has been engaged.”
The International Health and Medical Services (IHMS), which provides health care at the Manus Island detention centre, has declined to respond to the claim, saying it would be a breach of patient confidentiality.
Manus Island detainees have signed a letter holding IHMS to blame.
Candlelight vigils for Mr Kehazaei will be held tonight in Brisbane and in other Australian capital cities.
Concerns over lack of information on health of asylum seekers
The Royal Australian College of Physicians’ national president Professor Nick Talley said since the Federal Government disbanded the Immigration Health Advisory Group there had been a worrying lack on information about the health of asylum seekers.
“We are concerned too that access is being restricted for independent health experts and refugee advocates to check out these conditions and provide all of us more information,” he said.
“While the Australian Government might have a particular approach to the processing of asylum seekers – that’s an Immigration decision – it’s also critical that the Government ensure their health. That’s a rights issue and the two positions mustn’t be mutually exclusive.”
Professor Tully said he would be concerned if the infection was not treated straight away.
“If a patient gets a serious infection it needs to be dealt with promptly,” he said.
“Now I don’t have any details about this case. So I cannot comment, specifically on this case.
“But if there are significant delays in appropriate medical attention being given on Manus Island, that needs to be addressed.
“The problem we have is the lack of information about whether that’s occurring or not.”