Colombia’s health workers unprotected, patients without treatment: watchdogs

(Image: Senator Juan Luis Castro)

Colombia’s inspector general and ombudsman on Tuesday urged government action to protect health workers and continue providing healthcare to patients not suffering Covid-19.

The watchdogs confirmed healthcare organizations’ complaints that — more than two months after the first confirmed coronavirus case — many doctors and nurses still do not have access to PPE’s.

In a virtual meeting with the ministers of Health and Labor, Inspector General Fernando Carrillo additionally urged for the improvement of  labor security to health workers, who largely work on a freelance basis.

Ombudsman Carlos Negret additionally defended the rights of patients who are not infected by the coronavirus and have complained they are denied treatment as the government is trying to free up hospital beds.

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In a letter to President Ivan Duque, health organizations begged for a drastic increase in the budget for PPE’s to prevent the coronavirus from doing away with hospital personnel.

If there is no conscientious care and appropriate security measures for those of us who have the necessary skills, knowledge and expertise to safeguard the lives of our nationals and foreigners, then who else could do our jobs?

Healthcare organizations

While the watchdogs and healthcare organizations urged the government to assume responsibility to guarantee an adequate response to the pandemic, Health Minister Fernando Ruiz reiterated this responsibility lies with hospitals and healthcare intermediaries, according to the Inspector General.

Labor Minister Angel Cabrera told the watchdogs he would increase efforts to make sure the hospitals and healthcare intermediaries effectively provide PPE’s to the doctors and nurses.

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The institutions’ reluctance to take responsibility for health workers is causing increasing despair among doctors and nurses.

Local media have reported mass resignations in several towns and cities. According to a recent poll by the Colombian Medical Federation, 40% of medical personnel considered resigning over the past week.

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