Bolivian patients with cancer demand treatment after months of waiting

A group of cancer patients in Bolivia arrived today in the center of La Paz to demand that the authorities comply with their commitments, after months of waiting without receiving the treatment they require.

The patients were concentrated in the Plaza Murillo, next to the headquarters of the Bolivian Government and the La Paz Governorate, to demand attention to their needs and to fulfill their commitments to this group of patients.

The radiotherapy unit of the Hospital de Clínicas, the only public hospital in La Paz and dependent on the Government, has been closed since June of this year for a period of six months for its restructuring.

In order for patients to continue with their treatment, the Government made an agreement with the Bolivian Institute of Radiotherapy and Oncology (IBRO) to obtain services at a lower price.

However, the representative of the sick Rosario Calle, in statements to Efe, denounced that this agreement "apparently ended", because "there is no more budget" and that institution will no longer treat patients from the hospital.

"How many patients have to die to be heard by the authorities?" Calle questioned.

In addition, he asked that the Ministry of Health comply with its commitment to start the construction of a new radiotherapy unit.

"They told us it would start in August, but until now, not a stone has moved," he said.

Therefore, they decided to declare themselves in emergency and take to the streets of La Paz asking that the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, receive them to explain their situation.

"It seems that the president does not know what is the situation of cancer patients, does not know what happens with a person with cancer who has to live with this disease without adequate equipment," said the representative.

"I do matter" and "I want to live" were some of the posters that cancer patients and their relatives showed in their protest in Plaza Murillo.

"I want to be attended by the authorities of the Government and the Government, I want an answer, I want to live," exclaimed Efe patient María del Carmen Fernández, who suffers two and a half years cervical uterine cancer.

Fernández is from Oruro (west) and must get money to make a trip a week from his city, about 225 kilometers away, to La Paz to be treated at the Hospital de Clínicas.

For his part, the director of the Departmental Health Service (Headquarters), Freddy Valle, dependent of the Government, said that the agreement signed with IBRO is until December of this year.

"We are going to solve this, there is a budget," he said during a press conference.

Cancer patients performed several marches over four years asking for better care and a linear accelerator.


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