Romania: disability organisations condemn withholding of medical treatment to persons in residential institutions

8 organisations strongly condemned the discriminatory actions that Romanian authorities took in relation to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the Sasca Mică psychiatric institution where 242 of the 369 residents and 59 of the 86 members of staff are infected.

In a letter sent today to the Romanian Prime Minister, Minister of Health and Minister of Labour and Social Protection the organisations stated that infected residents were isolated in a separate building instead of being hospitalized as is standard practice. The letter details that the institution does not have adequate medical equipment or staff to provide medical care, hat the institution lack personal protective equipment and that the living conditions were sub-standard even before the infection.

They told the government that “We believe that such measures are obvious discrimination and will result in spiralling death rates and people being subjected to conditions that are akin to inhuman and degrading treatment.”

The letter also details explicit demands for the government: adopting more effective testing routines, provide universal access to health care for all persons with disabilities living in institutions, provide personal protective equipment and facilitate independent monitoring of all institutions, to promptly identify any cases where residents are being denied medical treatment, collect and make public information about the number of infections in institutions, and launch a time-bound detailed deinstitutionalization plan.

Signatories of the letter include the International Disability Alliance, the European Disability Forum,the European Network on Independent Living, the Romanian National Disability Council, Validity Foundation, Disability Rights International, the International Disability and Development Consortium, and the  Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria

Read the letter in full: