Cold weather kills 26 patients at Cuban mental hospital
Twenty-six patients at Cuba’s largest hospital for the mentally ill died this week during a cold snap, the government said Friday.
Human rights leaders cited negligence and a lack of resources as factors in the deaths, and the Health Ministry launched an investigation that it said could lead to criminal proceedings.
A Health Ministry communique read on state television blamed « prolonged low temperatures that fell to 38 degrees Fahrenheit (4 Celsius) in Boyeros, » the neighborhood where Havana’s Psychiatric Hospital is located.
It said most of the deaths were from natural causes such as old age, respiratory infections and complications from chronic diseases including cancer and cardiovascular problems.
The statement came in response to reports from the independent Cuban Commission on Human Rights that at least 24 mental patients died of hypothermia this week, and that the hospital did not do enough to protect them from the cold because of problems such as faulty windows.