Polish Prime Minister Meets With Libyan Officials To Discuss Case of Bulgarian Nurses Sentenced in HIV Case
Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka on Wednesday after discussions with Libyan leaders was "h[olding] out hope" for a negotiated settlement in the case of five Bulgarian nurses who were sentenced to death for allegedly intentionally infecting 428 Libyan children with HIV, Agence France-Presse reports (Agence France-Presse, 1/5). A five-judge panel of a Libyan court in May 2004 sentenced to death by firing squad five Bulgarian health workers and a Palestinian doctor who have been detained in the country since 1999 after being accused of deliberately infecting children with HIV through contaminated blood products. The health workers also were ordered to pay a total of $1 million to the families of the children, 46 of whom have died. Libyan Leader Moammar Kadafi accused the health workers of taking orders from the CIA and the Israeli secret service to kill Libyan children in order to destabilize the country. However, some European governments and human rights groups say that the Libyan Health Ministry failed to screen blood products adequately and allowed poor sterilization practices at Al Fateh Children's Hospital in Benghazi, Libya, where the children were infected. Libyan Foreign Minister Abdelrahman Shalgham in December 2004 said that the government might reconsider the death sentences of the health workers if the children's families are compensated by Bulgaria (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/20/04). "We raised the question of the Bulgarian nurses with representatives of the Libyan foreign ministry," Belka said, adding, "This affair has a good chance of a positive outcome in the context of larger plans coordinated by the European Union." Polish diplomatic sources said that possible plans involve the European Union financing the construction of a hospital in Benghazi that would care for the HIV-positive children, according to Agence France-Presse (Agence France-Presse, 1/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.