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Top Baku psychiatrist dismissed after declaring teenager ‘not mentally ill’

6 April 2023
Former head psychiatrist Aghahasan Rasulov. Photo: Report.az

The head doctor of Baku’s main psychiatric hospital has been dismissed from his post, after defending a teenager who had been labelled mentally ill for posting a video of poor conditions in an orphanage. 

On Wednesday, Aghahasan Rasulov, the chief doctor of Baku’s Republic Psychiatric Hospital No. 1, was dismissed from his post by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Health, reportedly on grounds of age. Orkhan Jafarov, formerly the general director of the Republic Centre of Narcology, was appointed in his place. 

Rasulov, 65, had on Tuesday told media that a teenager transferred to the psychiatric hospital after posting a video complaining about poor conditions in a local orphanage did not require in-patient psychiatric care. 

The 17-year-old orphan posted a video on social media earlier this week, alleging that residents of Orphanage No. 3 were mistreated, and that food meant for residents was stolen by employees and the administration. 

The video was rapidly and widely shared, after which the teenager was admitted to the Republic Psychiatric Hospital. 

On Tuesday, Rasulov, then the hospital’s chief doctor, told local press that the teenager did not require hospitalisation. 

‘That teenager is not mentally ill’, said Rasulov. ‘He cannot behave properly in society. He is a somewhat restless child. How is it fair to put him in a psychiatric institution?’

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He alleged that the hospital had sent the teenager back to the orphanage, but that the orphanage’s management ‘refuses to accept him’. 

‘We treated him for 5–6 days, found that he was a normal child, and sent him to the orphanage to live his life there. Since they did not accept him, we brought him back here’, said Rasulov. ‘He has certain psychological disorders, but they are very minor. Half of Baku has those conditions — should half the population come and sleep in our hospital?’ 

Commenters on social media have speculated that the director of the orphanage, Mahbuba Huseynova, has connections to senior officials or businesspeople. The 72-year-old orphanage director has previously faced criticism over accusations that children were beaten at the institution, that children did not receive appropriate medical attention, and that living conditions were unsanitary, but remains the head of the institution. 

Independent journalist Aynur Elgunash wrote on social media that this was yet another sign of the failure of Azerbaijan’s healthcare system. 

‘Shame on Minister Teymur Musayev for firing the chief doctor Agahasan Rasulov, who told the truth because he did not want the teenager’s life to be wasted! Shame on the NGO leaders and educators who defended the director of boarding house No. 3! As a citizen, I demand the dismissal of [the orphanage] director!’, said Elgunash.