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Al al-Bayt University students protest long term closure of on-campus health centre

Protesters meet with Higher Education Ministry secretary general to demand action regarding three-year long closure

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Jul 15,2018 - Last updated at Jul 15,2018

Students carrying banners stress their right to healthcare at Al al Bayt University on Thursday (Photo courtesy of The National Campaign for Students’ Rights - Thabahtoona)

AMMAN — The National Campaign for Students’ Rights (Thabahtoona) on Thursday staged a sit-in in front of the Higher Education Ministry, in cooperation with student groups from Al al-Bayt University to protest the lack of healthcare services at the institution, denouncing the closure of the health centre on campus for more than three years.

During the protest, students carrying banners stressing their right to healthcare, chanted slogans to demand the provision of on-campus medical treatment. 

The sit-in came as an escalating measure following the lack of response to two letters addressed to the Higher Education Ministry to demand action on the issue, according to a statement by Thabahtoona. 

“The Ministry of Higher Education is the institution at the top of the hierarchy in this matter, and it is their role to follow up on the actions taken by the administration of Al al-Bayt University to fix this problem,” student representative Manar Al Jundi told The Jordan Times on Saturday, calling on the ministry to “hold the university, a public institution with over 21,000 students, accountable on the reopening of the health centre”.

The protest was followed by a meeting between student union representatives and Higher Education Ministry Secretary General Ahed Wahadneh, where students listed their demands and highlighted the issues arising from the long term closure of the health centre. 

“We exposed the problems experienced by university students due to the closure of the health centre and emphasised that a  governmental educational institution such as Al al-Bayt University must provide on-campus health care available for all students,” Jundi stated.

Wahadneh told The Jordan Times that he contacted Al al Bayt University President Dia-Eddin Arafah prior to his meeting with the students, explaining that “according to the university presidency, it seems that the core of the issue lies in the differences between the Ministry of Health and the university administration on who is responsible for the equipment and administration of health centre”.

“Eventually, they decided that the university will equip the health centre and that the Ministry of Health will be responsible to run it,” Wahadneh continued,  noting that the university administration raised a tender on July 5 to equip the health centre for its opening at the beginning of the next semester. 

In addition, Wahadneh arranged a meeting between Jundi and Arafah to take place on Sunday to inform students of the steps taken by the university administration to re-open the health centre, as well as to discuss the problems encountered by students when seeking treatment in government hospitals outside university.

“Health issues at the university are a priority for myself and the rest of the university administration,” Arafah told The Jordan Times recently, as he confirmed that “the university has taken several actions concerning this problem, having approached the Ministry of Health to go ahead with the healthcare agreement signed between the university and the ministry in 2016”.

He noted that an additional appendix was signed by the Ministry of Health in May 2018 after “legal issues” between the university and the ministry, paving the way to reopen the centre in the campus and arrange the necessary operations and equipment. 

The university president added that the university received a letter on June 4 stating that the Ministry of Health had designated the personnel to be part of the new centre, and that all legislation, special conditions and equipment needed were arranged by June 26.

“The matter was transferred to the university’s tender department on Monday, and the centre shall be reopened in no more than two months,” Arafah announced.

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