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Coastal Residents With Oil Spill Ailments Tell RFK Center Cries For Medical Help Are Ignored

By Rhonda Miller | Published 25 Jul 2011 11:12pm | comments
At a Biloxi meeting on oil spill health issues are from left, Phil Johnston, RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights; Roberta Avila, Steps Coalition; Salvador Sarmiento and Kerry Kennedy, RFK Center.

Mississippi fishermen have the ear of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights in Washington. MPB’s Rhonda Miller reports fishermen told the D.C. delegation Monday their cries for medical help have been ignored.

In a Biloxi community center, Kerry Kennedy, the daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, leads the delegation making  stops in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.  Kennedy says they’re gathering first-hand information about health issues.

"Access to healthcare has become more acute in the wake of the oil spill, and the types of illnesses people are suffering. People around here have never had adequate health care access. That’s what we’ve been hearing," Kennedy said.

They've  been hearing stories this - a distressed wife telling about her husband, a Vietnamese fishermen who’s been sick since working on the oil spill clean-up. Thao Vu of the Vietnamese American Fisherfolk explains.

"He went in for a doctor’s visit, and they gave him some medicine but it didn’t work and ever since it’s getting worse and worse. He has a severe hacking cough and it won’t go away," Vu said.

Asian Americans for Change and the STEPS Coalition sponsored the forum.  

Phil Johnston is a member of the board of the RFK Center and the former New England administrator for the U.S. Deprtment of Health and Human Services.

"What’s been very shocking to me as a former federal official is that there doesn’t seem to be anybody in charge of this in the Gulf region, for the federal government," Johnston said.  "There needs to be somebody here who takes responsibility for analyzing the extent to which there are health problems.  And then following up with the states to make sure the health services are being made available to consumers here."

The delegation is in Louisiana today to announce plans for a health center. On Wednesday they’ll take their findings about the Gulf Coast to legislators on Capitol Hill.

Images

At a Biloxi meeting on oil spill health issues are from left, Phil Johnston, RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights; Roberta Avila, Steps Coalition; Salvador Sarmiento and Kerry Kennedy, RFK Center.


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