Italy provides family background on child seeking medical care for brother

Italy has passed on details to Egypt concerning the family of a 13-year-old Egyptian boy who allegedly entered Italy illegally in search of medical treatment for his chronically sick brother.
The Italian Embassy in Cairo told the Egyptian Foreign Ministry on Thursday that it had been in touch with the family of Ahmed Fouad Marei, saying they live in Kafr al-Sheikh, according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid.
The news follows a memorandum from the Egyptian Embassy in Rome to the Italian Foreign Ministry on Monday, requesting a meeting with Marei and details on his family in Egypt. The embassy made the request with a view to arranging medical assistance for Marei's brother Ashraf, who suffers from a serious blood condition.

According to Abu Zeid, the boy's treatment will be paid for by a number of Italian businessmen and families who have volunteers to help, although it is still not clear whether the treatment will take place in Egypt or Italy.

The Italian Embassy, meanwhile, confirmed that Italian laws require a response to any external demand for treatment in Italy, so long as the necessary funding is provided and the medical case can be verified.

The news seems to point to a resolution of an ongoing dispute between Egypt and Italy as to where Ashraf should be treated and who should foot the bill. Until now, Egypt has suggested that Ashraf should be treated in Egypt, insisting that its healthcare system is capable of dealing with such cases.
According to reports in Italian media, Ahmed Marei crossed to Italy by boat in search of help after his family realized they could not afford treatment for their other son Ashraf, estimated at LE50,000.
The case is potentially embarrassing for Egypt, apparently highlighting the poor state of public health provision, and the two governments have been seeking a solution since the story broke two weeks ago.
On August 18, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said that the Meyer Children’s Hospital in Florence was willing to treat Ashraf.
Egypt's Health Minister Ahmed Emad released a statement the following day urging the family to contact him personally so that he could arrange for treatment in Egypt. Emad said that Egypt has the means to provide its citizens with all the medical care they need.
Later that day, Abu Zeid released a statement urging the family to listen to Emad and to seek the help they need at home, not from outside the country.
Ahmed's journey to Italy started in the town of Rashid in the Nile Delta, where he paid human traffickers to take him across the Mediterranean in a boat. He had to swim the last 10 km to the Italian island of Lampedusa, where he was picked up by the Italian authorities, according to Italian media.
On questioning, he revealed that he was not claiming refugee status but simply traveling abroad to seek help for his sick brother, who suffers from a deficiency of platelets in his blood.
All through the journey, Ahmed preserved his brother’s medical documents and blood tests by placing them between his clothes, media reports said. 
Ahmed said that his family had already paid a large sum of money for a preliminary procedure to prevent his brother from dying, but now another operation is needed, costing about LE50,000. The father’s annual income is only LE3,000.
Since hitting the headlines, Ahmed’s story has touched the hearts of several prominent Italian doctors, who have agreed to perform any medical procedures needed to save Ashraf's life.

Related Articles

Back to top button