Egypt’s health minister suspended a hospital chief after a widely-circulated video showed a woman giving birth in the street outside a provincial hospital.
Health Minister Adel Adawy also suspended the head of the gynaecology department and its staff at the Kafr al-Dawwar hospital, according to state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper, referring them to prosecution and ordering the formation of a committee to investigate the incident.
The video, recorded on a camera phone in the northern Beheira province, was widely shared on social media and broadcast on several talk shows on Sunday night. It shows a woman lying in the street covered with a blanket, as her husband and others swarm around her, scrambling to get her inside.
In the video, someone asks why she isn’t being admitted to the hospital and whether or not there is a gynecologist available, to which someone responds, saying there is no one to perform a cesarean section.
Mohamed Neamatallah, deputy health minister of Beheira, linked the spread of the video to political agendas, saying it was only shared by Muslim Brotherhood YouTube accounts.
In phone-ins on several talk shows, an unapologetic Neamatallah questioned the motives behind filming and spreading the video, claiming parts of it were omitted. “How could a husband allow his wife to be filmed while she was in labor?” he asked, “especially in a rural area?” He claimed the woman’s husband was uncovering her and telling people to film her.
Neamatallah, who said the video was taken on October 10, explained that the woman arrived at the hospital with contractions. She was experiencing intense pain, so sat on the floor in front of the hospital, according to the deputy health minister, who added that her husband was very hostile and staff were afraid to approach her.
In an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm, the woman’s husband Ahmed Abdel Fattah said they arrived at the hospital and were told to go elsewhere, since there was no doctor available. He said the hospital didn’t offer to move her in an ambulance and he was forced to go and find a taxi. When he returned, he found they had let his wife out of the hospital. She had already gone into labor and was forced to have the baby on the street.