A month after promising to cancel $1.5 billion debts owed to public hospitals, Colombia’s President Ivan Duque has yet to transfer a single peso, the Inspector General’s Office said Wednesday.
The watchdog urged Duque to fulfill his promise to cancel the debt that “has obviously affected the functioning of public hospitals and endangered their continuity.”
Duque announced the emergency financial injection in March as part of a series of measures to prevent the collapse of the country’s health system and provide emergency food assistance to the country’s poor.
Coronavirus: Colombia to inject $1.5B in healthcare and secure food for 10 million during quarantine
The Inspector General’s Office urged the government not just to keep its word, but also not to “give in to pressure” from notoriously corrupt private health intermediaries to send them the emergency funds.
Instead the watchdog urged to “guarantee the continuous flow of resources to the hospitals, in order to ensure the payment of fees, salaries, benefits and social security contributions of their medical, paramedical and administrative staff, and comply with financial agreements with hospital medical providers.”
Coalition party Radical Change told the president in a remarkably harsh press release to “stop making announcements and start governing,” repeating the Inspector General’s Office call to “URGENTLY” provide hospitals with the promised funds.
The conservative party additionally urged the president to use the extraordinary powers his cabinet obtained after declaring a state of emergency to decree a reform of the country’s healthcare system that has been on the brink of collapse for more than a decade.
We believe that the current situation of the coronavirus forces us to insist, once again, on the imperious need to convert our initiative to reform the Colombian health system into law.
Duque, who was already highly unpopular, has come under increasing pressure over his handling of the crisis caused by the coronavirus.