Court rules in favor of Linda AIDS Clinic in Narva, Estonia

In Estonia, Global by AHF

For the Estonian version of this article, click here

On 10 March 2014, the Estonian Ministry of Social Affairs’ decision of 09.07.2013 not to provide antiretroviral therapy medication (ARV) to the Linda Clinic was overturned by the Administrative Court in Tallinn, Estonia. The court ordered the Ministry of Social Affairs to review the application for allocation of ARVs to the Linda Clinic from 16.05.2013 again, because of serious discretionary flaws.

Journalists can request information on the entirety of the court ruling in Estonian via the information request to the Tallinn Administrative Court under the Public Information Act.

 ‘We are very satisfied with this decision and it is in line with what we expected,’ said Zoya Shabarova, AHF Europe Bureau Chief. ‘From the beginning of our campaign for ARVs for the Linda Clinic we knew that the decision-making at the Ministry of Social Affairs had been arbitrary and unlawful. This ruling confirms that.’

The Linda Clinic opened its doors in June 2013, but still cannot function fully because the Ministry of Social Affairs is blocking the clinic’s access to ARVs, despite agreements made in 2012 with the previous minister of social affairs, in which access was promised.

Today’s decision does not automatically grant the Clinic access to state-procured ARVs, but it obligates the Ministry to make a new, lawful decision. ‘Since the Linda Clinic meets all requirements to be a registered provider of medical HIV/AIDS services in Estonia, AHF and Estonian Network of People Living with HIV representatives see no threats to obtaining the ARV,’ said Sven Veltmann, AHF’s attorney. ‘The refusal to provide antiretroviral treatment to the Linda Clinic undermines the right of patients with HIV to make a choice about their healthcare service provider and contradicts the health policy set forth by the Estonian Government.’

‘Since July 2013, we have repeatedly attempted to meet with the minister personally, but up until this moment he has refused our requests,’ said Latsin Alijev, director of the Estonian Network of People Living with HIV. ‘We have made the President of Estonia aware of this and are hoping that the court ruling can provide a basis for continuation of the discussion, and that we can come to a joint solution.’

‘The Linda Clinic meets all the regulatory requirements and is a model for a community-based response to the epidemic. By denying ARVs to the clinic, the Ministry is demonstrating stigma toward the community of people living with HIV. However the court decision reaffirms the rights of this community,’ Alijev added.

To continue to stress the urgency of the issue, as of 11 March members of the Estonian Network of People Living with HIV will protest in front of the Ministry. They will remind the minister that there is a lack of patient-oriented services in the Narva region, and that Linda Clinic is needed there: so far 2603 people have signed the petition in support of the call for ARVs for Linda Clinic.

For the Estonian version of this article, click here

Click here to read an article from Estonian Public Broadcast network Eesti Rahvusringhääling (ERR) about this ruling.

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