Paulina Quintao – The Chief of the Surgery Department at the National Hospital of Guido Valadares (HNGV), in Dili, Surgeon Alito Soares said many patients of cancer, with broken legs and arms chose to leave the hospital early in favour of doing traditional treatments.
He said the internal regulations of the hospital are for doctors to not allow any patient to leave the hospital early but they cannot also force a patient to have surgery or to be hospitalised.
"A health professional will never allow a patient to leave the hospital early. We encourage them to receive the treatment provided by the hospital and we explain about the complications they may encounter if they opt for the traditional treatment. But it is their decision, we cannot force a patient to have surgery or to be hospitalized," he said in his office, in Bidau, Dili.
He said in recent years the number of patients leaving early has been high, 152 people in 2017 and 98 people in 2018, but many others leave without informing their attending doctor.
For example, he had three patients with broken legs who requested to be discharged early so they could go seek tradition treatment. Afterwards they returned to the hospital with serious injuries and had to have their legs amputated because the bones and muscles were too damaged.
He said there are many such cases, the patients choose to seek traditional treatment and then return but there is nothing the doctor can do for them, apart from amputating their limbs.
He added, this is something of concern because the government provides free treatment but still patients prefer to seek traditional treatment.
On the other hand, a broken leg patient, Arnaldo da Silva, said everyone needs to trust the health professionals at the hospital, because the hospital has the capacity to provide the best treatment.
He said he broke his leg in a motorcycle accident. "Some people choose to massage [traditional], but I chose to come to the hospital for treatment and to get my medicines. I believe my leg will recover fully."