Dr. Ivan Hucal and dental assistant Melanie Bott of Red Deer were scheduled to be in Ethiopia to treat the teeth of African youth. It’s not known if they are among the humanitarian volunteers being detained, but at least one central Alberta, Dr. Jared Ord, is. (Photo contributed)

Olds dentist granted bail by Ethiopia while on humanitarian mission

Olds dentist among those detained

Thirteen Canadians being detained in Ethiopia, including a dentist from Olds, have been granted bail.

Dr. Jared Ord was one of the volunteers detained while taking part in a two-week expedition with Canadian Humanitarian, a Medicine Hat-based non-profit agency that brings health and dental services to developing countries.

Red Deer orthodontist Dr. Ivan Hucal and dental assistant Melanie Bott were also scheduled to go on the mission. It’s not known if they are among those being held.

It was the second trip for the two, who were part of a 2018 Canadian Humanitarian trip to Ethiopia.

Fifteen medical volunteers, general volunteers and staff were taken into custody Sunday on allegations that they were practising medicine without permission and had dispensed expired medication. Canadian Humanitarian disputes the allegations.

The charity said in a statement that hopefully, the team will be released on bail Wednesday, at which point they will be free to travel within Ethiopia. It is uncertain when authorities will allow them to return to Canada.

“This has been deeply distressing for all of us. We are focusing all of our efforts on getting our loved ones back to Canada safely and quickly,” said James Murphy, a brother-in-law of one of the detainees.

A representative of Canadian Humanitarian, and consular officers, have been permitted brief access to the prison and confirmed that the detainees have received fair and humanitarian treatment in accordance with internationally recognized law.

Ethiopian authorities have suggested the detainees may need to remain in Ethiopia while an investigation is completed.

Canadian Humanitarian said it will pursue all avenues to get its employees and volunteers back home as soon as possible.

Red Deer dentist Dr. Michael Zuk could not speak to the allegations against Canadian Humanitarian, but said it’s the first time he can remember that the important topic of donating expired medication has been raised publicly.

“I believe there has been a practice, where it has been common, that expired goods have been donated without any second thought on the matter. This will probably wake up the industry that’s it’s not acceptable,” Zuk said.

He said expired medical or dental products can become contaminated over time, because packaging isn’t meant to keep them sterile forever. Some products also do not work as well after the expiration date.


Red Deer dental duo returning to Ethiopia to help kids

Climate change means military can expect more African distress calls: Defence

Canadian Humanitarian said while it could not comment on the specifics of the expiry of the medication, it could say with confidence that all medicine and care offered by the team was safe.

“We are vigorously defending the actions and decisions of our team, knowing that every decision was made by highly trained and certified Canadian medical professionals, and that their mission on this trip was to provide essential medical care to the citizens of Ethiopia who need it most.

“The care they provide in Ethiopia is the same care they would provide here in Canada.”

Canadian Humanitarian has been sending teams to Ethiopia for 15 years.

— with files from The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A message from the Advocate publisher

In good times and bad, The Red Deer Advocate has been here… Continue reading

Sunchild First Nation man reported missing

Contact Rocky Mountain RCMP

Parliament may need to be recalled again to approve wage subsidy program

OTTAWA — Canadians are supposed to get more details today of the… Continue reading

US death toll eclipses China’s as reinforcements head to NYC

NEW YORK — The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus climbed past… Continue reading

WATCH: Firefighters, RCMP help Red Deer boy celebrate 3rd birthday

Firefighters and RCMP officers helped a Red Deer boy celebrate his third… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

Fiscal transparency would help

Way back before the COVID-19 crisis came upon us, the federal government… Continue reading

A message from Waskasoo Medical Clinic

A Message From Waskasoo Medical Clinic Waskasoo Medical Clinic (including our walk-in… Continue reading

UPDATE: Anti-tax group calls for MPs, senators to donate scheduled pay raises to charity

Bill C-30, adopted 15 years ago, mandates the salary and allowance increases each calendar year

Michael Dawe: Public projects often play a role in creating jobs during tough times

At the end of October 1929, the New York stock market collapsed… Continue reading

Sylvan Lake photographer captures family life from the front steps

Deb McNeil is taking porch portraits to share the uniqueness of families during COVID-19

Montreal Impact midfielder Shamit Shome making most of time alone

Montreal Impact midfielder Shamit Shome has been making the most of his… Continue reading

Most Read