Doctors demand pregnant asylum seeker be flown to Australia

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — A doctors’ group on Friday called on the Australian government to bring a pregnant asylum seeker with health complications from the Australian immigration detention camp on Nauru to Australia to give birth.

The 34-year-old Kurdish-Iraqi woman had diabetes, was in severe discomfort and was 40 weeks pregnant with her second child, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported on Friday.

A neonatal specialist doctor, Michael Edwards, told the ABC that he had been invited on Thursday to fly the 4,700 kilometers (2,900 miles) from Melbourne to the Pacific atoll to treat the woman, who has not been named. Edwards said he had refused because Nauru lacked medical facilities to treat her properly.

Australia’s largest group of specialist doctors, The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, on Friday called on the government to listen to pediatricians and immediately transfer the woman to Australia.

“Any mother likely to deliver a baby needing more than the most basic level of care must be transferred to Australia,” the college’s Pediatrics & Child Health Division President Nicki Murdock said in a statement.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s office referred a request for comment to his department. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection said in a statement that all appropriate support was being provided to the woman. It did not say whether the woman would give birth on Nauru.

The woman had been part of a group of asylum seekers on Nauru “who were refusing appropriate medical assistance with their pregnancies,” the statement said. “This individual is now fully engaged with primary and specialist health care practitioners,” it added.

The Australian company that runs hospital facilities on Nauru and invited Edwards, Aspen Medical, referred media inquiries to the Australian government.

Australia refuses to allow refugees who come by boat to ever settle on the Australian mainland. Dutton has recently complained that 240 asylum seekers who have come to Australia for medical treatment have then got court injunctions preventing the government from returning them to Nauru.

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