Portugal health minister steps down after pregnant Indian tourist dies

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After a pregnant Indian woman died in Lisbon, Portugal’s health minister Marta Temido stepped down from her post. The woman was turned away from a full maternity ward and died while being shifted to another hospital.

Portugal health minister steps down after pregnant Indian tourist dies

Portugal’s Health Minister Marta Temido was widely credited with successfully handling the country’s vaccine rollout during the Covid-19 pandemic (Photo: Reuters/File)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Portugal health minister Marta Temido resigned after an Indian pregnant tourist died
  • The woman, who was turned away from an overflowing maternity ward, suffered a cardiac arrest
  • Marta Temido had been serving as the country’s health minister since 2018

Portugal’s health minister Marta Temido resigned from her post hours after an Indian woman died while being shifted between hospitals in Lisbon. The 34-year-old pregnant Indian tourist suffered a cardiac arrest during an ambulance transfer from Lisbon’s main hospital Santia Maria because its neonatology unit was full, news agency Reuters reported. Her baby was delivered following an emergency caesarean section and an investigation has been launched into the woman’s death.

Marta Temido, who has been credited with successfully handling the country’s vaccine rollout during the Covid-19 pandemic, faced heavy backlash for her decision to temporarily close emergency obstetric services over lack of doctors. Prime Minister Antonio Costa said he had accepted her resignation and thanked Temido for her work and said the government would push ahead with reforms to strengthen the health infrastructure.

The prime minister said that the woman’s death was the ‘last straw’ that led to Temido’s resignation, as per Portugal’s Lusa news agency. Similar incidents were reported across Portugal in recent months, in which two infants died whose mothers had shifted between hospitals and suffered long delays.

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“I am grateful for all the work carried out by Dr. Marta Temido, especially in the exceptional period of combating the #COVID19 pandemic. The @govpt continue the ongoing reforms with a view to strengthening the #SNS and improving healthcare provided to the Portuguese,”Antonio Costa said in a tweet.

The government said that Marta Temido had ‘realised that she no longer had the conditions to remain in office’.

The health minister faced the wrath of opposition parties because pregnant women have to make risky trips to hospitals. Women had to wait for long hours as the shutting down of natal units led to overflowing maternity units.

Marta Temido, who became the health minister in 2018, was one of the most popular members of the center-left Socialist government during the COVID-19 pandemic, the opinion polls suggest. However, her ratings suffered badly due to a shortage of health staff, especially those specialising in gynaecology and obstetrics, and other problems at public hospitals.

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