Lack of interpreter delays medical care for 2-year-old Iraqi

The Children's Hospital in Rīga on Wednesday has set the refugee matter to the fore in healthcare as well, as a two-year-old child had to be operated on but the hospital staff couldn't communicate with the child's mother who didn't speak English, and an interpreter was found only half a day later, reported Latvian Television Wednesday. 

The head of the hospital thinks that this situation calls for a plan to be worked out about who has the obligation to provide an interpreter and who is paying for the operation if an asylum seeker is in need of help.

The two-year-old boy was lead to the Children's Hospital in Rīga from Daugavpils where a group of Iraqi are residing in the asylum seeker's center. The boy's mother couldn't communicate with the hospital staff as she doesn't speak English. 

"The boy is two years old. He has no [legal] status as of yet, so it's not clear whether he's a refugee or an asylum seeker," said Inga Sproģe, a representative to the hospital.

This is the second case in the last few days when a child with an undetermined legal status is taken to the doctors. On Tuesday a child without any identity documents needed help, though his mother at least spoke Russian.

According to chairman of the hospital's management, Anda Čakša, the refugee matter poses more healthcare problems than previously thought. 

"Doctors have already learned to see where it hurts to even the smallest of toddlers, but we need to talk with the parents, and the matter of payment [for the services] is important too," said Čakša.

On Wednesday the doctors were aided by the Border Guard, sending their own interpreter to the hospital. The head of the work group on refugee matters in the Interior Ministry, Ilze Pētersone-Godmane, said that the matter of interpreters has been placed on the agenda.

The government hasn't yet approved a plan over admitting refugees. The latest events in the Children's Hospital make it clear that it has to be done, and quickly at that. 

A number of prominent people, like MP Hosams Abu Meri, have stressed recently that Latvia is seeing a profuse lack of Arabic speakers skilled enough to work with refugees. 

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