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UHHRU and KHRPG monitors visited TB institutions of Kharkiv Oblast

In May 2018 human rights defenders studied the human rights situation for HIV-positive people, TB patients and people from risk groups in special clinics and sanatoria of the region

On May 13, a group of monitors of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union and Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group visited regional sanatoria Zanky, Sharivka and Volodymyrskyi in the village of Kurortne of Zmiyiv Rayon, Kharkiv Oblast.

There are 92 patients there undergoing long-term inpatient treatment; the institutions can accommodate up to 220. The staff at Zanky, Sharivka and Volodymyrskyi together is 67 people.

The Zanky sanatorium began its work in 1928. After the Second World War, it has been focused on treating tuberculosis, with additional buildings built in the 60’s and its territory expanded. In 2001 the sanatorium was reorganized into an anti-TB hospital but got its old legal status back seven years later, in 2008. In the same year, as part of reorganization, sanatoria Sharivka and Volodymyrskyi were transferred to Building No. 1 of the Zanky sanatorium.

The monitors mentioned musty air within the institutions. There is mold in places on the walls and ceilings, and the plaster is coming off. All premises are outdated and require new equipment and complete renovation. The last one was carried out in 2008 and only in Building No. 1, where Sharivka and Volodymyrskyi are located.

The Zanky sanatorium hasn’t been renovated since 2001. Patients live in rooms designed for 5 people. Each one usually houses 2-3 people. Washrooms and showers are shared by all patients on a floor. Some patients belong to vulnerable groups of the population, such as ex-convicts and homeless people, meaning that they lack strong social ties.

In the course of the visit, monitors found out that several patents have no registered place of residence, which means that they cannot get disability certificates and receive social aid. According to the acting administrator, the institution is doing its best to resolve this issue.

Human rights defenders also interviewed nine patients and provided them with legal advice on the best course of action for the patients themselves as well as the institution’s administration to obtain the documents and arrange for social payments.

On May 29, monitors visited Kharkiv Oblast Tuberculosis Hospital No. 2. The institution is located in the village of Lyptsi, Kharkiv Rayon, Kharkiv Oblast.

The hospital houses 12 patients diagnosed with open and closed forms of tuberculosis. The medical staff includes 32 persons. The hospital is located on the premises of a former parochial school. The acting administrator claims that the institution is able to accommodate up to 30 patients. According to monitors, the conditions at the hospital are atrocious, with patients housed in rooms for 4 persons each. Human rights activists note that the hospital has been operating in this building for 65 years and is hopelessly outdated.

“Our visit to  Tuberculosis Hospital No. 2 convinced me that it should be closed and patients transferred to other medical facilities that treat TB,” says KHRPG monitor, lawyer Pavlo Shvab. – The conditions there for patients undergoing long-term inpatient treatment are unacceptable. People are forced to suffer terrible conditions. The problems with supplies and treatment, as well as the need for renovation are also common in other medical facilities that treat TB.”

As in the previous case, almost all patients of the hospital belong to vulnerable groups. 4 patients have no passport, and only one out of 12 is paid a pension. Similarly, only one person holds a certificate of disability, although everyone should have one, considering their medical condition. The monitors interviewed three patients and provided them and the administration with consultations. Three patients’ movement is limited: one person has a disability and moves on a wheelchair, and two women – on crutches. As a result, the women have been unable to visit an office of the State Migration Service and obtain passports. The wheelchair-bound patient has no disability certificate, and thus no pension.

The monitors also paid attention to the institution’s personnel. At first, human rights defenders had not been allowed on the premises where the patients were housed, but when the acting administrator arrived, the monitors visited all rooms and staff premises in the hospital building. No rooms for manipulative surgery and treatment were observed.

The staff’s attitude toward patients is negative. When talking about the patients with the monitors, they would often use obscene expressions and rude statements. The monitors got the impression that it is a normal method of communication there.

In the course of the visit, human rights defenders had the staff agree on their future actions to obtain documents for the four passport-less persons. It was agreed that a group of volunteers who had accompanied the monitors during the visit to this institution would help transport these four to Kharkiv, where they would be able to visit an office of the State Migration Service, which would speed up the issuing process.

In conclusion, the monitors brought up the conditions that are inadequate for normal stay and treatment at the institution. It should either be renovated or shut down.

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