Catch-22 situation: Israt says she can neither get a hospital facility for her father in the UAE nor can she take him to Bangladesh. Image Credit: XPRESS/Oliver Clarke

Dubai: Israt Jahan's father is 64. He suffered a cardiac arrest last June and has been in a vegetative state ever since. He has three tubes in his body: a tracheal tube for breathing, a tube for feeding and a catheter to pass urine. Every hour, his phlegm has to be suctioned out; every three hours he has to be fed and his body turned to prevent bed sores; and every eight hours he needs to be given medication.

No facility for expats

Yet, Israt, 22, claims there is no health-care facility available for him in the UAE. With no choice but to keep him at home, she said her family in Al Ain is struggling to cope.

"Every developed country in the world has long-term care facilities. Why are they not open to expatriates in the UAE? A sick person is a sick person," said the engineer who works for a private firm in Jebel Ali.

She was speaking to XPRESS in response to last week's cover story on Yusra, an Emirati girl who has achieved academic milestones from the confines of a hospital bed. Yusra is currently being housed at Abu Dhabi's ProVita International Medical Centre which provides long-term care for ventilated Emirati patients.

Israt regretted that hospitals in the UAE ask expatriate patients like her father to go back to their home countries. "But this wasn't an option in our case. The UAE is home to us. My father has a business here which he has built over 35 years. We are five brothers and sisters and my younger sister is still in school. We have all grown up here," she said.

"What do people like us do, when medical care in our home country for vegetative patients is next to nothing?" she asked.

Israt said in the first six months after her father returned home from hospital in Al Ain, his condition destabilised many times. "We were afraid we would lose him. He was hospitalised again four times in these six months and sent back home."

"We were worn out. We kept a private nurse from an agency but they charged Dh8,000 per month," she said, adding that they now have two caretakers who come for Dh5,000.

"Thankfully, the cost of my father's medication and supplies are covered by insurance. If it wasn't, we have no idea what we would have done," she said. "We are a big family and we stood together. The question that arises is, what about those countless small families who have faced this tragedy and have been asked by the hospital to take their patients home?"