Two Bulgarian Romani Women Die After Delivery Due to Alleged Inadequate Medical Treatment

11 March 2005

On October 30, 2004, Mr Plamen Tsankov testified to the ERRC that his sister-in-law, Ms Rusanka Mateva, a Romani woman from the southern Bulgarian city of Pazardzhik, died on October 17, 2004, in the Pazardzhik Regional Hospital, after giving birth. The death was apparently due to loss of blood. At the beginning of October, Ms Mateva's health insurance coverage was reportedly terminated as a result of unpaid dues. Mr Tsankov reported that Ms Mateva was admitted to the emergency ward of the hospital to deliver her baby and, following the delivery, doctors left her without any medical supervision for several hours. Mr Tsankov also informed the ERRC of his belief that Ms Mateva's ethnicity also factored into her inadequate medical treatment. Several days after Ms Mateva's death, her family filed a complaint with the local court. As of February 4, 2005, no further information on the case was available.

A day earlier, according to a report by the Romani newspaper Drom Dromendar, Ms Maria Atanasova, a 22-year-old Romani woman from the Southern Bulgarian city Plovdiv's Stolipinovo Romani neighbourhood, and her baby, died in hospital during delivery. Drom Dromendar reported that Ms Atanasova's husband Petar brought her to the hospital at 8:00 AM on the day in question and waited. At 1:00 PM, a Dr Iliev came out of the delivery room and reportedly stated to Mr Atanasov, "Give me 150 leva [approximately 80 Euro] and you'll have a baby". Mr Atanasov reportedly paid the money because Ms Atanasova's state provided health insurance had been terminated due to unpaid fees. After a short while Dr Iliev returned and demanded the same amount again, which Mr Atanasov again paid. At this time, according to Drom Dromendar, an ethnic Bulgarian woman entered the hospital to deliver a child. Mr Atanasov was quoted as having stated that all of the doctors left Ms Atanasova, whom he could hear crying and shouting, to assist the other woman. At 5:00 PM, Dr Iliev informed Mr Atanasov that Ms Atanasova and their baby were dead. Dr Iliev reportedly stated that Ms Atanasova's death was a result of heart problems, though Drom Dromendar reported that her family disputed this, stating that she did not have such medical problems. As of February 4, 2005, no further information was available.

(Drom Dromendar, ERRC)


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