Day of action for the health of Mumia Abu-Jamal

Source:  Granma
September 7 2016

by Cubadebate | internet@granma.cu

Actions are being carried out in various cities around the world today, September 7, to demand Mumia Abu-Jamal receive immediate treatment with new antiviral drugs which could cure Hepatitis C, a disease from which he, along with almost 6,000 other Pennsylvania state inmates, suffers.stand with mumia.jpgPhoto: Cubadebate

Actions are being carried out in various cities around the world today, September 7, to demand Mumia Abu-Jamal receive immediate treatment with new antiviral drugs which could cure Hepatitis C, a disease from which he, along with almost 6,000 other Pennsylvania state inmates, suffers, reports Cubadebate.

Request for a life-saving hepatitis C treatment denied

According to a September 1 article by UK newspaper the Guardian, “The internationally known imprisoned former Black Panther and journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal has had his request for a life-saving hepatitis C treatment denied by a federal judge.

Abu-Jamal was sentenced to death for the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer, but maintained his innocence and Amnesty International says he was denied a fair trial. After 30 years on death row, his sentence was overturned on constitutional grounds.

“Abu-Jamal sued the state of Pennsylvania to receive anti-viral medication for hepatitis C after he was hospitalized in a critical condition last year. Officials told him he was not sick enough to be eligible for the treatment, which has a 90-95% cure rate but costs $1,000 per dose, and is taken once a day for 12 weeks,” reads the report.

The article continues noting that U.S. district court judge Robert Mariani denied Mumia’s petition on the basis of a technicality, saying that the “lawsuit wrongly targeted the warden and the prison system’s medical chief, and should have named the four members of the state’s hepatitis C committee instead. Abu-Jamal’s lawyers say the committee did not exist at the time the lawsuit was filed.”

Not enough money

The judge also referred to the testimony of Dr. Paul Noel, chief of clinical services for the state’s department of corrections who explained that the state’s protocol is designed “to identify those with the most serious liver disease and to treat them first, and then … move down the list to the lower priorities,” noting that “there simply is not enough money to treat every individual” with chronic hepatitis C ,and that treating all of them “would cost approximately $600m. Such an expense would effectively cripple the department,” according to the article.

Hundreds of prisoners dying in isolation

Despite denying Abu-Jamal’s request Judge Mariano highlighted “that evidence and testimony presented in the case demonstrate that Pennsylvania’s hepatitis C protocol for inmates fails to meet constitutional standards,” reports the Guardian.   The article continues, “Newly obtained evidence in Abu-Jamal’s case revealed that Pennsylvania treats just about five of more than 6,000 prisoners who are infected with hepatitis C… Hundreds who have been moved to the prison infirmaries are “dying in isolation, often chained to their beds,” says Noelle Hanrahan, a supporter of Abu-Jamal who monitors prison conditions and records his commentaries for Prison Radio.”

The text again cites Judge Mariani who wrote that Pennsylvania’s “treatment protocol as currently adopted and implemented … prolongs the suffering of those who have been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C,” and “allows the progression of the disease to accelerate so that it presents a greater threat.”

Proper medical standards

Despite this “partial setback” as Abu-Jamal’s lawyers described the decision, they noted that “the judge’s ruling makes clear that if what he considers the proper defendants were in front of him, he was prepared to strike down the protocol and order that my client be treated in accord with proper medical standards,” the article reports.

Meanwhile, according to Cubadebate the International Concerned Family and Friends of Mumia Abu-Jamal (ICFFMAJ); Bring Mumia Home Campaign; MOVE organization, and New York City Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition held a press conference and protest this September 7, to demand Mumia receive immediate treatment. Similar actions were carried out in other cities around the world, including a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City.

To sign the petition demanding treatment for Mumia visit:https://campaigns.organizefor.org/petitions/life-saving-treatment-now-for-mumia-abu-jamal

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