Guatemalan doctors march to protest lack of medicine, equipment

Guatemala City, Feb 22 (EFE).- Doctors working at one of Guatemala’s two main hospitals marched on Tuesday in the capital to protest the lack of healthcare personnel, supplies and medical equipment to treat patients.

“We came with a single demand: that the public’s right to health be respected,” Napoleon Mendez, a doctor at the San Juan de Dios Hospital, one of the country’s two main hospitals, told reporters.

Mendez, the director of the emergency unit, warned before the Guatemalan Congress that the situation is complicated by the fact that “we’re treating infections without antibiotics” and that there are no “essential” medical supplies with which to treat patients.

“The questions we have are: Where is the money? Where are the millions of dollars in increased spending that should have put us in good shape in the hospitals and yet we’re in short supply and requesting the minimum?” the physician said, adding that he and his colleagues were powerless and were “seeing patients having seizures” without being able to treat them due to the lack of medications.

The doctors marched from the hospital in downtown Guatemala City to Congress, located a few kilometers from the medical center with the aim of making their demands known to the legislative healthcare committee.

Participating in the demonstration were more than 500 physicians, who carried signs demanding “medications to treat patients” and urging the public to support their cause.

Since last week, doctors and nurses at San Juan de Dios Hospital have been saying that they lacked medications and that they did not even have acetominophen – a widely used pain reliever and fever reducer – or other basic drugs to provide to patients.

The Guatemalan Health Ministry said in a statement that the “shortage in the hospital network” was due to “four big problems” linked to purchasing that should be made by healthcare authorities.

According to the statement, the four problems are, specifically, purchasing “events” that have been nullified, the “reference prices” of medical supplies, “market variations” and global “transport … problems.”

San Juan de Dios Hospital, along with Roosevelt Hospital – both located in Guatemala City – are the country’s two main medical centers.



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