Colombia’s medical community said on Thursday it will no longer work with the country’s health minister, aggravating the government’s problems in combating the coronavirus pandemic.
In an open letter, the Colombian Medical Federation, the Colombian Association of Scientific Societies, the Colombian Medical College and the Federation of Medical Unions said they would no longer work with Health Minister Fernando Ruiz.
According to the medical organizations, “the lack of guarantees and the behavior of the national government …do not generate the necessary confidence to compromise our constituents in exchange for empty words.”
The doctors’ refusal to work with the health minister is the latest in a series of crises as President Ivan Duque is increasingly struggling to coordinate a response to the pandemic.
Ruiz promised to guarantee the protection and payment for medical personnel on Monday, but “until today we have neither seen the arrival of any biosafety equipment for health workers nor those who would assume the distribution of these,” the medical organizations said.
The organizations previously reported a gross shortage of basic protection gear like masks, uniforms and footwear that put both hospital personnel and patients at risk of infection.
The minister has also failed to provide information about infections and deaths among medical personnel as the virus is spreading throughout the country, according to the organizations.
In fact, the medical personnel representatives confirmed the government’s failure to coordinate any kind of reliable testing of the coronavirus that would give an indication of the gravity of the situation.
Consequently, the doctors and nurses withdrew their confidence in the minister and their commitment to a forced labor order.
The rupture between the government and the medical community is the latest indication that both Colombia’s healthcare system and government are failing under the weight of the pandemic that is wreaking havoc worldwide.
While the health minister is dismissed by the medical community, healthcare institute INS is under fire for failing to produce test results that would allow a reasonably reliable indication of how much the coronavirus has spread.
Government efforts to distribute food also seem to be failing as there have been a growing number of reports of protests and looting from different parts of the country.