Scandals and fake documents

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Al-Watan

WE know that cancer patients bear a lot of pain because of the nature of the disease and its treatment. There are heartless people who, instead of trying to alleviate the pain of these helpless patients, try to increase it by selling contaminated medicines.

Mona Baalbaki, the previous head of pharmacy at Rafeek Hariri Hospital in Beirut has been sacked by the General Disciplinary Council “for stealing a large quantity of Health Ministry-donated cancer medicines from the hospital and selling them for hundreds of millions of Lebanese pounds.”

The worst part, as per the same report, is that she was replacing stolen medicines with expired drugs given to a larger number of cancer patients, mostly women and children, without their knowledge. Baalbaki had reportedly brought the contaminated medicine from India in 2008 through some wicked traders.

She bought boxes of such contaminated medicines at the rate of 300,000 Lebanese liras ($199) per box and put them in the hospital’s warehouse in place of original cancer medicine boxes in order to sell the original medicine boxes for five million lira ($3,000) per box.

She carried out this scandal eight years ago with the support of 20 other hospital staff after subverting the hospital’s warehouse monitoring system.

The hospital had suspended Baalbaki from her position due to public outrage but she was not arrested, which indicated that top government officials were protecting her. As a result she was able to continue in the job for five more years even after the scandal became public and was able to leave Lebanon.

Despite the anger expressed by families of cancer patients, the case against Baalbaki was moving very slowly as the General Disciplinary Council began looking into the case in 2014. The following year, the court initiated a series of sittings in which Baalbaki intentionally did not attend. The council dismissed her from job this year.

The scandal not only involves stealing of cancer medicine from the hospital. A minister’s signature is required for the entry of such medicine to the country. This shows either she was supported by the minister in committing the crime or the minister was the reason for preventing her from being imprisoned.

Another important thing is that she was able to leave Lebanon without any travel ban imposed by the court. She went to another country where she is likely to continue such immoral and corrupt practices endangering public health and safety.

The outrage against Baalbaki has shifted from Lebanon to the Kingdom last week. A foreign associate professor at the College of Pharmacology in Northern Border Province University has been charged that she was holding a fake degree. I was not surprised when I read the name of the professor and this reflects our blind confidence in expatriate workers.

The issue has also raised doubts about the employment system at the university and the quality of its process. That pharmacist would not be the first one and would not be the last due to the negligence of authorities. Many suspicious people find their place in the Gulf as authorities often do not bother about their previous record and appoint them in high positions without thinking about its consequences.

We have noticed that some criminals run away from their countries to the Gulf to escape from police. The Saudi university has stated that it had not checked the pharmacist’s previous record and did not search for her name in the Google before appointing her to teach at the university.

The same leniency has been shown by authorities when they appointed engineers and doctors who possessed fake certificates. The university may have a different opinion on the scandal and let’s wait for its investigation report.

Some readers may be remember the case of a Sudanese surgeon who was working in a private hospital in Asir without a valid certificate. We have also heard about an Indian barber who worked as a doctor for 20 years holding a forged degree. In another case an Egyptian, who was holding fake documents, was appointed head of the department of anesthesia at the Maternity and Children’s Hospital in Dammam.

We are not against expatriates working in the Kingdom on the basis of authentic academic and experience certificates. At the same time, we are against the chaos and confusion created by unjustified recruitment. We know that the Kingdom has the best human resources. Many of our graduates and postgraduates have obtained degrees from reputable national and international universities.

We are against the phenomenon of expat workers being trained by the Kingdom. Some employers appoint them as head of HR department and senior officials who then determine the future of Saudis. They set out the strategy for how to remain in the Kingdom. We are against showing blind confidence in expatriate workers and companies. It’s high time we check the criminal background of expat workers before recruiting them.


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