Ten thousand health care workers marched in Bogota Thursday, calling for financial reform in the country’s public hospital system.
The bulk of their protests were aimed at Empresas Promotoras de Salud, a network of health insurance providers that contracts with health care facilities throughout the country and owes Bogota hospitals alone more than $150 million.
In total Bogota’s hospitals face $300 million in outstanding debts from health insurance companies. The shortfall has made it impossible to pay worker salaries and order hospital supplies, the march’s organizers told Radio Santa Fe.
Donning white lab coats as part of the “Save our Hospitals” campaign, the protesters were joined by the mayor of Bogota and the directors of 22 city hospitals in a march that ended at the Plaza de Bolivar.
In a Twitter posting Wednesday, Gustavo Petro, the mayor of Bogota, invited the public to participate in the event. “I’ll see you at the white march for public health, for the resuscitation of the hospitals,” he wrote.
Though emergency care services were still running Thursday, organizers said the crisis could force some primary health clinics to shutter.