Peace restored at hospitals


After the regular Cabinet meeting last Wednesday, Health Minister G.Shiilegdamba made a statement through on Twitter that “drunk tank” responsibilities will be returned to police departments, according to news.mn. This means that the government will repeal the law calling for intoxicated people to be sent to hospitals to sober up under the care of doctors and nurses. This law was approved in 2013 and enacted in January 2014.

Number of intoxicated people put in custody reduced

Before the approval of the law, the police were in charge of people who were intoxicated to a state of unconsciousness and drunk people who were involved in crimes or conflicts. Drunk tanks, separate cells designated for detaining heavily intoxicated people, were operated at police departments in the districts. The police used to detain those who were disorderly in public places and people who had violated the rights of children and family members. There have even been incidents of taxi passengers who refused to pay taxi fares, who went to the drunk tanks upon a driver’s request.
While drunk tanks were given the name “sober house”, they did not provide medical services. Men and women used to be kept naked in separate cells until the following day. People who were detained would be released when they were sober and after paying service fees. If one scolded or argued with policemen, they would pay a higher penalty. Television stations and newspapers used to report that the 18 drunk tanks of the districts would become overloaded during graduation season, after graduation parties, the first days of the new academic year, New Year’s Eve, Tsagaan Sar, and on Soldier’s Day.
As police departments are not healthcare service facilities, there was no treatment or medical assistance available to people in the drunk tanks. In addition, there were several deaths in the sober house connected to forceful treatment from the policeman towards people who refused their demands or who lost self-control.
After considering such risks, in 2013 the current Parliament agreed that intoxication was not not a criminal offense but a health emergency, and approved a law to transfer responsibility for intoxicated individuals to health organizations. The law stated that police officers were to deliver people who had passed out while intoxicated, those who did not where they were or where to go, those who uncontrollably fell down in the street and public places, and those who were at risk of becoming injured or falling victim to a crime or conflict to hospitals for their protection and to provide medical assistance.
But in January 2015, one year after the implementation of the new law, doctors and nurses of the districts’ health centers started to complain that the drunk people were creating a mess in the hospitals and disturbing other patients. They reported that the majority of the drunk people delivered to the hospital by policemen were homeless. According to hospital staff, the district health centers were at peak capacity before the last Tsagaan Sar holiday, receiving five to 10 drunk people a night.


Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=14295

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