Czech doctor prioritizes registration of Romani patients and receives hateful threats from non-Roma
MUDr. Martin Kárník has decided to draw attention to a serious situation in the medical profession in the Czech Republic. Many general practitioners there refuse to register patients who are Romani.
Kárník and his wife, Mgr. Marianna Kárníková, opened an office in April and decided to register Romani clients in particular as a matter of priority. The couple have become targets for attacks and threats by some non-Romani inhabitants of Cheb as a consequence.
The couple turned to news server Romea.cz when the regional crew of the commercial TV NOVA station visited their office on 13 May and demanded that they explain why they are rejecting non-Romani patients for registration. "The crew of the NOVA television channel took no interest at all in the circumstances and reasons that led us to prioritize the registration of Romani patients," Kárníková told news server Romea.cz.
"We actually are concerned about what such a one-sided reportage might lead to," she said. "We reject the approach taken by doctors, and not just here in Cheb, of rejecting Romani clients for no [valid] reason."
"We decided we will accept Romani patients as a matter of priority, and we will not back down even if we are being threatened and sworn at by other Cheb residents. Romani people here have no chance of going anywhere else for medical aid," Kárníková explains.
"We announced our intentions both to the Karlovy Vary Regional Authority and to the insurance companies," she added. As for the doctor himself, he described the situation as follows: "We are horrified by the hateful reactions from so many Cheb residents."
"Recently, for example, people kicked in the door to our office, and therefore we have had to file crime reports against several persons already. In the waiting room we hear many coarse, racist swear words being aimed at Romani people...," Kárník said.
"The animosity and the xenophobia in many places is absolutely terrible," the doctor said. News server Romea.cz then asked the regional crew of TV NOVA for their perspective on their visit to the physician.
TV NOVA confirmed that the crew filmed a reportage at the doctor's office yesterday, but refused to communicate any details about its content or when it will be broadcast. If you have become a victim of discrimination by a doctor, you can complain to the manager of the health care facility involved (written complaints are best) or you can file a motion for the initiation of an administrative proceeding with the Regional Authority.
You can also contact your health insurer and, if they take no action, you can contact the Health Care Ministry or file a lawsuit with the courts. Free legal aid for the victims of discrimination is provided, for example, by the Public Defender of Rights, which has established a collaboration with the Pro Bono Alliance association, which facilitates such assistance to selected victims of discrimination.
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