An estimated 57,000 Colombians took to the streets on Saturday to protest against controversial reforms ordered by the government to prevent the country’s health care system from collapsing.
According to the different local authorities, there were no incidents during the marches that lasted from 10AM until 1PM.
The protesters opposed the government’s declaration of social emergency, which allowed it to pass a number of decrees Bogota thinks necessary to save the health care system.
The most controversial points in the reform decrees, issued over the last few weeks, are concerned with the evaluation of patients’ ability to pay for treatments not included in the Obligatory Health Plan, or POS, and the fact that they will have to use their savings or retirement benefits to cover them.
Also criticized are the economic sanctions and even dismissal of doctors who prescribe expensive medicines or recommend treatments not included in the POS.
According to medical associations, this “straitjacket” is a violation of professionals’ autonomy and the very practice of medicine.
The demonstrators consider that the decrees violate acquired rights and cut back medical and hospital care.
President Alvaro Uribe, in response to the protests, said that some of the decrees were wrongly formulated and understood, and that the decrees would be rephrased.