Access to medication questioned at inquest into detainee with epilepsy


9 Nov 2018

The death of an immigration detainee with epilepsy may have been related to his missing out on medication and not seeing a neurologist, an inquest in WA has heard.

Afghani man Mohammad Najafi, 26, died at Yongah Hill Immigration Detention Centre on July 31, 2015 after having a seizure, the WA Coroners Court was told.

Mr Najafi was an asylum seeker who had spent more than three years in immigration detention centres, and had a history of epilepsy, according to the Guardian.

The inquest heard he had been referred to the Royal Perth Hospital neurology clinic in late 2014, but had not seen by a neurologist at the time of his death.

His epilepsy was being managed with twice daily carbamazepine, but the Serco-run immigration centre health service would not let him have more than one dose at a time, and he missed some nurse dispensing appointments due to his irregular sleeping hours.

The inquest was told “this may not have been a practical and reliable alternative to providing him with a weekly supply of carbamazepine.”

Mr Najafi made a formal complaint regarding the single dose dispensing practice in nine months before his death, and was also recorded as expressing his frustration at being unable to access his epilepsy medication six days before his death.

Medical records showed he had a history of seizures associated with missed doses of carbamazepine, but the inquest heard it was not clear whether there were processes in place to ensure Mr Najafi received his medication.

At the time of his death, other asylum seekers at the centre told the Saturday Paper that medical care provided by Serco at the detention centre was poor, with 600 detainees having access to only one doctor during business hours.

“If detainees want to see a doctor, they have to fill a request form, and then wait at least four days,” it said.

The inquest continues.

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