Fri. Oct 18th, 2019

Bolivian doctors ask the government for working conditions after two deaths

Hundreds of Bolivian doctors marched on Friday asking the government for better safety conditions to work in public hospitals, while reminding two doctors who died of a virus that causes concern in the Bolivian population.

The start of the mobilization was at the doors of the General Hospital of La Paz, an enclosure of almost one hundred years that is the main recipient of sick and injured in the city of almost one million inhabitants.

Many doctors with white coats and masks blocked the passage of a central avenue to remember with a mass the doctors Ximena Cuéllar and Gustavo Vidales, who died a month ago and this week, respectively, because of a virus that caused multiple organic failures.

In statements to Efe, the president of the medical school of La Paz, Luis Larrea, said that the reason for the protest was to "sensitize the population" and that it is known under what conditions the doctors carry out their work.

"We see hospitals in decline, which are falling and we do not see modern equipment," he said.

In the middle of the street a small altar was improvised in which a priest held the religious celebration and at the table were photographs of Cuéllar and Vidales with a Bolivian flag.

The march crossed the center of La Paz and ended at the doors of the Ministry of Health, where firecrackers were blown up and the resignation of Minister Gabriela Montaño was demanded, which the protesters accused of alleged inability to handle the outbreak of the virus. which caused the death of a patient in addition to the two toilets.

"We do not have the conditions to be able to attend to the population in the appropriate conditions," the executive secretary of the Union of Medical Branches of La Paz, Fernando Romero, told Efe.

This leader pointed out that the main problem was the insufficient measures of "biosecurity" when dealing with the case of Dr. Cuéllar a month ago and then the situation of the doctor Vidales.

Cuéllar was the first to suffer the symptoms of arenavirus, which was initially not identified and was treated by Vidales when he arrived at the Gastroenterological Hospital of La Paz.

Some doctors told Efe that the "only" security measures are "the apron, a pair of gloves and a disposable mask and a hat", that "they do not protect them from viral diseases", and that in the city no hospital has a unit for isolated patients.

Romero said the virus is Bolivian hemorrhagic fever, an endemic disease in an Amazonian region located in northeastern Bolivia, which for many years has remained isolated with only a few cases.

The carrier of the arenavirus is a wild rodent named Calomys that "has been escaping" from that place and "has come very close to areas with a lot of population," as some subtropical in the west of the country, Romero said.

The virus also affects a third doctor, Marco Ortiz, whose state of health is delicate since it also has failures in several organs, according to reports from health authorities in the country.

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in Bolivia said last Thursday that the arenavirus outbreak is contained and there is no risk to the general population.

(tagsToTranslate) Medicos (t) Bolivian (t) conditions (t) work (t) Government

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