• Tunis

  • Monday, July 1, 2024 at 4:52 AM
    Last Update : Thursday, July 4, 2024 at 4:52 AM

Implementation of Medical Liability Law Sparks Controversy in Tunisia

(AWP) - With the number of Tunisians affected by medical malpractices annually rising, and the majority unable to prosecute those responsible or receive compensation due to the absence of relevant regulations, the north African country has begun implementing a newly introduced law to determine the rights and responsibilities of both patients and doctors.

Tunisia’s Assembly of People’s Representatives recently voted in favour of the Medical Liability Bill, which lawmakers say will enable patients affected by medical errors to seek justice, while also protecting doctors from unfounded accusations.

Nabih Thabet, Chair of the Health Committee at the Tunisian People’s Assembly, told AWP, “It is a rights-based law for the benefit of Tunisian citizens. In this law, a distinction has been made between citizens who benefit from health services and those who provide those services.”

He added, “As we all know, this law was approved by the President of the Republic and published in the Official Gazette to be implemented. We hope that this law will benefit Tunisian citizens and the health sector in Tunisia.” 
Plaintiffs affected by medical malpractice have often lamented the slow pace of legal procedures when investigating their cases.

AL-Eid Jebari, whose son was gravely affected by a series of medical failures shared his experience. He said his son was initially admitted to hospital for kidney problems, but then “a major disaster befell him as a result of a medical error.”

Jebari explained, “He was supposed to be treated for kidney issues but developed heart problems. Various random operations were performed in places not designated for medical operations and not sterilized.”

He added, “I filed a legal complaint, and the cased was referred for criminal investigation. I submitted all the necessary documents and files, including photos and videos, and to this day I am still waiting for the investigation of the doctors.”

Chokri Mabrouk, Secretary General of the Tunisian National Coordination of Health Executives and Workers, warned that the country is heading towards “bankruptcy within the health sector” due to the migration of medical staff amid the lack of protective laws.

Mabrouk said, “We always strive to reform health institutions and empower staff with legal rights, so that they do not leave the homeland. As we know about the heavy losses of practitioners, technicians, nurses and doctors, we need to carry out a legislative revolution to stop the migration drain and search for the reasons and causes, in cooperation with the supervisory authority and those involved in the health sector, from professional organisations to unions and civil society organisations.”