Tuesday, January 16, 2007

“Contaminated” Blood Bags and Separation of Powers

When the British prime minister Tony Blair said some time ago that a major corruption inquiry into Saudi Arabian arms deals was threatening national security, and so the inquiry should stop, I assumed that this was the end of it. As a citizen in an Arab country I was used to take the statements of political leaders for granted, and of course I didn’t think for a moment that any part of the government would dare to challenge Blair’s assessment, after all, he’s the boss!!
But this is not an Arab country, it’s Britain. And because it’s Britain, Britain's secret intelligence service, MI6, has challenged the government's claim and John Scarlett, the head of MI6, has now refused to sign up to a government dossier which says MI6 endorses this view.
When I read this news in the Guardian (16-01-2007) I couldn’t ignore the contrast between the head of MI6 attitude and that of some Egyptian officials in the issue of the blood bags that are not compatible with the standards.
The issue started when fifty-year old Khedr Abdul-Hadi, who was a liver fibrosis sufferer, died on Monday, a week after receiving a transfusion of contaminated blood at a hospital in Cairo, the Egyptian opposition paper al-Wafd reported on Tuesday.

Al-Khedr fell into a coma shortly after the transfusion.

The bag used in Abdul-Hadi’s case was one of more than 250 000 “contaminated” blood bags had been delivered to hospitals and blood banks by Haidylena for Advanced Medical Industries, a company owned by Hani Sorour, a MP from the ruling National Democratic Party. So, what was the government and the parliament’s response to such a serious incident?

The head of the health commission on the parliament Dr. Hamdi Al Sayed advocated Sorour enthusiastically, describing him as a “poor” fellow that no one gives the chance to tell his side of the story. Meanwhile, the government stood still and the Egyptian Parliament has yet to meet on Thursday to discuss stripping Sorour of his parliamentary immunity so that the police can interrogate him.

The case of the blood bags reveals that the notion of separation of powers is absent in Egypt, Sorour, broke the law that prevents any member of the parliament from entering in deals with the government, and El Sayed ignored the fact that he is the head of the health commission on the parliament and advocated Sorour. The parliament didn’t think of stripping the parliamentary immunity of Sorour so that the police can interrogate him until the media intensive cover of the case provoked wide anger in the Egyptian street. And a spokesman for Sorour’s company accused the media of interfering in issues that they don’t understand!!