Niger closes 14 health establishments for 'alarming' flaws
The West African state of Niger has ordered the closure of 14 privately-run health establishments after inspectors uncovered "alarming" failings, Health Minister Idi Illiassou said Friday.
A months-long check of privately-run clinics, physicians, pharmacies and maternity hospitals, mainly in the capital Niamey, resulted in "36 summons, of which 14 entailed immediate closure while 22 resulted in warnings," he said on television.
He said inspectors had uncovered an "alarming situation... (in which) regulations, legislature and procedures for opening (medical) establishments are not respected".
"(Ordinary) treatment rooms are being used for bed patients or to carry out surgery and doctors' consulting rooms are being used as laboratories," he said.
Illiassou also complained of "anarchy" in pricing among pharmacies, with as much as a three-fold variation in prices for the same drug. "It doesn't make sense," he said.
Clinics and laboratories sometimes "defrauded sick people" by recommending tests that were costly, unnecessary and of doubtful accuracy, he added on Saturday, in comments to lawmakers.
"We are going to be relentless in upholding the laws and current regulations," he said, adding that the campaign would spread from Niamey to "all health services across the country".
One of the poorest countries in the world, Niger is burdened with many flaws in its health infrastructure.
In January, the health ministry closed down a major clinic and two ancillary buildings that, it said, had been working for years without any authorisation.