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Nicaraguan government fires doctors who criticize lack of measures for COVID-19

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  • Nicaraguan government fires doctors who criticize lack of measures for COVID-19


    Nicaraguan government fires doctors who criticize lack of measures for COVID-19
    By Houston Castillo Vado
    June 05, 2020 07:07 AM

    MANAGUA - At the height of the curve of COVID-19 case contagion, the Nicaraguan government has fired at least three doctors for contradicting the official speech of President Daniel Ortega, who claims to have controlled the situation of the pandemic, as reported by a association of health professionals.

    The most recent expulsion case was that of Dr. Carlos Quant, who was head of the infectious diseases unit of the Manolo Morales public hospital in Managua, and was in charge of antiretroviral therapy for patients with HIV.

    According to the official document of the Ministry of Health, the reasons why the doctor's service was dispensed with was an alleged absence of a week, something that the doctor flatly denied in an interview with the Voice of America.

    Dr. Quant believes that his dismissal is due to political retaliation for questioning the few measures directed by the Ortega government to contain the growing curve of coronavirus infections, which keeps public and private hospitals in the country crowded.

    "It is retaliation because we have been pointing out some things and giving recommendations to the population that are contrary to those of the government. For this, it is incongruous. That someone who works in a public institution is dissonant to the official speech is not tolerated, "Quant told the VOA.

    Quant belongs to a Multidisciplinary Scientific Committee (CCM) recently created by several health experts in Managua to offer recommendations to citizens to prevent COVID-19.

    From said committee, the specialist exposed in media such as The New York Times, CNN and Deutsche Welle the collapse situation in which public and private hospitals in Nicaragua find themselves due to the pandemic, as well as the contagions of health personnel due to the lack of medical supplies.

    Activists and HIV patients regret departure of infectious disease

    Some activists who protect the rights of people with HIV, such as Hernan Guillermo Talavera, expressed concern about the sudden dismissal of the health expert who was treating patients with this virus.

    Talavera criticized the decision to dismiss Quant, and alluded to its possible consequences, due to the years of experience that it accumulates in the treatment of patients with HIV.

    “To reach a decision like this, patients with a serious condition must be considered. The dismissal of Dr. Quant is very serious because he is the person who has the most experience in treating people with HIV and complications of opportunistic diseases, "said the activist.

    An HIV patient consulted by the VOA, who for fear of retaliation asked not to be identified, also regretted the dismissal of the health specialist.

    "His dismissal is unfair. The doctors have always been with us supporting us at all times, especially now with this virus. Despite them they always treat us with affection, they are our guides and advisers. They deserve special treatment, "said the source.

    Other fired doctors

    Weeks ago, Dr. Luz Indiana Talavera Martínez, with more than 28 years of experience, was also fired. Talavera directed the Oncology Unit of the Bertha Calderón public hospital in Managua.

    At that time, the doctor told the Nicaragua Investiga portal that her dismissal occurred because she was under surveillance by her superiors for having openly participated in anti-government demonstrations in 2018.

    “It was an unfair dismissal; I will go to the courts, to the Supreme Court of Justice, to human rights instances, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, to demonstrate that it was an unfair dismissal and that I did not incur any fault, "said the specialist.
    Despite criticism, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega defended this week his idea of ​​how to deal with the coronavirus, which has been criticized inside and outside the Central American nation.

    Epidemiologist warns that it is not time for layoffs

    Epidemiology expert and founder of the Ministry of Health Leonel Argüello believes that the layoffs are at the worst time due to the health crisis in Nicaragua due to the coronavirus.

    “In a pandemic situation, all health human resources are extremely important. It is time to add and not to subtract, ”said Argüello to the VOA.

    The epidemiologist believes that the effects of the dismissal of health experts will be reflected in the public due to the lack of doctors who treat certain specialties.

    According to data from the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health, for every 10,000 inhabitants in the country there are 10 doctors, 8 nurses and 9 nursing assistants. In total there are 6,482 doctors, 5,181 nurses and 5,833 auxiliaries.

    However, in the case of certain specialties such as infectious diseases, the staff is much more limited.

    Argüello and Dr. María Mercedes Somarriba estimate that in total there are only five infectologists for adults. With the dismissal of Dr. Carlos Quant the number drops to four.

    "These (layoffs) cannot be recovered overnight, less in this pandemic situation," Argüello warned.

    "It is a detriment to the people most in need and it is a huge loss for residents and medicine students who learn from the experience of doctors such as the infectologist Quant," said the doctor.