Rabat - Morocco’s Health Minister Houcine El Ouardi has allegedly ordered the closure of the Injab Health Care Clinic in Casablanca, which was launched recently by Moroccan gynecologist Zouhair Lahna to offer free medical services to refugees and low-income Moroccans.
Rabat – Morocco’s Health Minister Houcine El Ouardi has allegedly ordered the closure of the Injab Health Care Clinic in Casablanca, which was launched recently by Moroccan gynecologist Zouhair Lahna to offer free medical services to refugees and low-income Moroccans.
Less than two weeks after its opening, a humanitarian imitative to provide free health care for the poor and refugees was reportedly shut down by a ministerial ban “without prior notice.”
The Ministry of Health dispatched an inspection committee to the center on Monday, “without even informing me,” Dr. Zouhair Lahna told the Huffington Post Maghreb.
According to the same source, the minister stated, “Neither the Department of Health nor the Council of the Association of Physicians has received any application for the opening of the clinic. This is an illegal exercise of the profession, especially since it also encourages unfair competition among doctors and hospitals that pay taxes.”
The minister said that, in principle, he has “nothing against the opening of the center, provided that this is done within the law and in accordance with certain standards, including technical and logistical procedures.”
However, Dr. Lahna, the founder of the clinic, asserts that “the application for authorization was submitted to the Association of Physicians of Casablanca.” The doctor stated that “he is not required to personally ask the Ministry of Health for an authorization because the center is a private clinic.”
“The real reason [for closing the center]”, according to Dr. Lahna, “is that the idea of opening this center, as well as my reputation among Moroccans, disturbs the ministry. If I were an unknown doctor who makes little noise and I without permission, he would have allowed that.”
Dr. Lahna’s initiative is supported by a group of NGOs aiming to offer free preventive care and treatment to the sub-Saharan and Syrian refugees who cannot afford to pay for health care.
Located in the Farah Sulfa Salam neighborhood in Casablanca, the medical center was run by a team led by the gynecologist, in addition to two general practitioners, a midwife, and a social worker, assisted by an administrative assistant.
After the center became operational, Dr. Lahna posted on his Facebook page photos and videos of the first patients treated by the Injab center, which precipitated hundreds of comments and posts commending the philanthropic efforts of the doctor.
Dr. Lahna, is well known for his humanitarian efforts. In 2014, he volunteered to help treat Palestinians who were victims of Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip.
The center, if allowed to operate, would provide an essential service to refugees in Morocco. According to figures from the High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), Morocco is home to more than 5,000 Syrian refugees.