December 5, 2020

Doctors warn of the "emergency" for the injured in the protests in Chile

Medical associations in Chile describe as "health emergency" the number of eye injuries since the beginning of the protests, which amounted to 177 until Wednesday, and blame this figure for the breach of police protocols by security forces.

The vice president of the Medical College, Patricio Meza, told Efe that "the number of registered cases exceeds any country analyzed," so it is a "really serious" situation.

The National Institute of Human Rights (NHRI) announced, in its latest report on Wednesday, that almost two hundred of the total of 1,778 hospitalized wounded suffer eye injuries.

To these, every day an average of twelve new cases of severe eye injuries are added, of which "a high percentage will need prostheses permanently," said Meza.

The union representative said that "about 80% of severe injuries are caused by pellets (rubber), which are used as a deterrent by the police force, the Army (during the states of emergency previously decreed) or the Police Investigations (PDI) ".

For this reason, it demanded the prohibition of pellets by the security forces "until compliance with the police protocols is guaranteed".

"The safety distance for firing projectiles has not been respected, has been aimed above the waist and, sometimes, in the presence of children, pregnant women or people with reduced mobility," said Meza.

"We have seen injuries from 9-millimeter pellets, some with a metal center, which also bounce and can reach anywhere and damage more people … It is a lack of control," said Meza.

The doctor wondered why in Chile, unlike other countries "with similar conflicts", "other deterrent methods that avoid this number of wounded" are not used.

Likewise, the representative of the health union asked for "the revision of protocols in relation to the launch of tear gas", which on more than one occasion "has left people blind due to the direct impact of the pump on the eye".

This method is common in protests, which meet this Thursday 21 days, to disperse the crowds, firing tear gas bombs into the air, but also directly against the crowds, metal elements and more blunt than the pellets.

"When a historical judgment is made of what happened, Chile is not going to take pride. The situation will be a shame in the future and a tremendous shame," said Meza.

For its part, the NHRI informed through a statement that, after the delivery of a new balance of eye injuries and losses, it will officiate the Ministry of Health to "clarify and detail the official figures".

"Clarifying the official figures and determining what measures of reparation will be adopted is relevant, because it allows consolidating a real and unique number of injured, in addition to which the Institute has been able to observe, partially, in its visits to hospital centers" , said Sergio Micco, director of the NHRI, a public but independent entity that monitors the protests on the ground.

The Chilean Society of Ophthalmology (Sochiof) on Thursday expressed its "concern" about the high number of patients with "irreversible visual damage" and insisted the authorities on "the need to review and that the protocols are correctly applied when safeguarding public order. "

The violent demonstrations and protests that took place in the country in the context of the social outbreak, which began on October 18, left about twenty dead and thousands of detainees and wounded.

. (tagsToTranslate) Doctors (t) emergency (t) eyepieces (t) protests (t) Chile

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