On June first, more than 700 Nicaraguan doctors who are members of 34 specialist associations, signed a joint statement in which they warned about the collapse in the public and private health systems. They denounced the saturation in hospitals, the lack of supplies and the infections suffered by many health professionals treating patients with COVID-19.
“The working conditions of health personnel in Nicaragua are very precarious. There was no prevention or training plan for patient care nor preparation for personal protective equipment,” said Róger Pasquier, President of the Association of Anesthesiologists of Nicaragua, in an interview with Toward Freedom. “We have heard that doctors are sent to COVID units only with cloth masks, all this makes the level of infections quite high.”
“At a certain point in the pandemic, many of the colleagues who were going to work without the necessary requirements protested and signed a letter asking for compliance with the regulations set out by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (OPS),” said Pasquier. “Surprisingly, the letter caused a wave of layoffs of highly qualified personnel. The group most affected are low-income patients who attend public hospitals.”
In Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua, dissidents are silenced, and even during a pandemic, doctors are no exception.
Just three days after the publication of the letter, a lawyer appeared at the Roberto Calderón hospital in Managua, Nicaragua, looking for infectious medicine doctor Carlos Quant, a founding member of the Multidisciplinary Scientific Committee (CCM), a group of health professionals created to issue recommendations based on scientific evidence. Quant was one of the doctors who signed the letter
“I was working when a lawyer came to give me a dismissal letter,” said Quant in an interview with Toward Freedom. “They asked me to sign it immediately and they told me to take my personal items and leave, I decided to leave to avoid a confrontation.”
“It’s also a very clear message for everyone, that if you speak out against the government or the measures they are enforcing, you can not only be fired but also imprisoned,” said Quant. In the days following Quant’s dismissal, 16 other doctors were fired from various hospitals around the country.