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Student rights campaign calls for action over absence of healthcare services at Al al-Bayt University

University president says health centre to reopen ‘in no more than two months’

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Jul 04,2018 - Last updated at Jul 04,2018

Main entrance of Al al-Bayt University in Mafraq, some 80 kilometres northeast of Amman (Photo courtesy of Al al Bayt University Facebook page)

AMMAN — The National Campaign for Defending Students' Rights (Thabahtoona) on Tuesday issued a statement calling on the Ministry of Higher Education to tackle the lack of healthcare services at Al al-Bayt University, complaining that the institution has been “suffering from the absence of a health centre on campus for more than three years”.

“Student healthcare is a basic right, not just a university service,” the statement said, warning that the closure of the health centre at the university three years ago has “forced students to be treated at the Mafraq Public Hospital, which is more than eight kilometres away from the university campus”. 

The campaign also complained that “a healthcare agreement was signed between the university and the Ministry of Health in 2016, according to the guide published in the university’s official website, but its provisions have not yet been activated”.

“Although Al al-Bayt University is an official university and is thus required to provide health services free of charge, the university administration pays a health insurance fee when the new student is enrolled in the university, and a fixed amount is deducted from students when they enroll in the subsequent semesters,” Thabahtoona added.

The Ministry of Higher Education's only comment was that “each university is administered independently and this issue falls under the power and authority of the university administration”.

For his part, Al al-Bayt University President Dia-Eddin Arafah told The Jordan Times that “the university has taken several actions concerning this problem”, noting that the administration has approached the Ministry of Health to go ahead with the provisions signed in the agreement referenced by Thabahtoona in their statement. 

In this regard, Arafah commented 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. 

In addition, Arafah noted that the university received a letter in 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.

The issue has also been raised by student groups at the university, who launched a social media campaign and met with competent authorities such as the Deanship of Student Affairs, the vice president and the General Services Department to discuss issues related to healthcare services at the campus. 

“A final meeting was held yesterday with the university president in order to discuss the reasons behind the closure of the health centre three years ago,” Al al-Bayt University student Manar Junidi told The Jordan Times, noting that “the university administration stated that the closure of the centre came after legal issues between the university and the Ministry of Health based on the delay of payments from the university and the resulting shortage in medical staff to serve the students”.

Arafah confirmed having met with the students and informing them of the issues causing the delay in the application of the agreement between the university and the Ministry of Health, adding that “several documents are available to support this claim”.

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