New Delhi: Portuguese health minister Marta Temido resigned after a 34-year-old Indian pregnant tourist reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest while being transferred between Lisbon hospitals. The pregnant woman was turned away from a full maternity ward which resulted in her death, reported BBC quoting a local media report.
The incident triggered extreme criticism of her handling of the recent staffing problems at public hospitals. Portugal’s Prime Minister António Costa said the death of a pregnant woman was “the last straw” that led to Dr Temido’s resignation, according to Portugal’s Lusa news agency.
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What happened to the pregnant tourist?
The pregnant tourist was being shifted from Lisbon’s Santa Maria Hospital, the largest in Portugal, as the neonatology unit was fully occupied, the BBC report added citing local media.
However, the baby was delivered in good health after an emergency caesarean section, according to authorities. An investigation has been launched into the woman’s death.
Why is Portugal’s health service under pressure?
The 48-year-old expert in hospital administration has been holding Portugal’s health ministry since 2018. She was considered one of the most popular members of the center-left Socialist government during the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, she came under severe pressure in the past few months, including from inside her Socialist Party, due to temporary closures of public hospital emergency services, including maternity departments due to a staff crunch, reported the Associated Press.
The country has been facing similar incidents in recent months including two cases of infant deaths whose mothers had apparently been transferred between hospitals causing long delays.
In fact, the acute shortage of employees, especially those specialising in gynaecology and obstetrics, also made the government consider hiring from abroad. The closure of some natal units caused overcrowded maternity wards and long queues, with opposition parties, doctors, and nurses blaming the former health minister, reprted AP.
Miguel Guimaraes, the chair of the Portuguese doctors association told a local outlet RTP that Dr Temido did not offer any resolution to the current crisis even as he praised her record in office.
Meanwhile, groups representing Portuguese doctors and nurses have been critical of Temido’s policies. Prime Minister Antonio Costa’s office announced Temido’s resignation in a brief statement at 1.30 am on Tuesday.
While announcing the resignation, he said the government would push ahead with reforms to strengthen the national health service but didn’t mention about Temido’s replacement.