Caption (my photo): Social worker “crucified” with protests to the new law written in blood. (Local newspaper article can be read at: http://www.eldeber.com.bo/nota.php?id=120424143323)
Today marks nearly four weeks of medical strikes in Bolivia. All year, we have being hearing complaints about a proposed increase in physician work hours from 6 hours/day to 8. From the government’s perspective, the suggested work hours permit a burgeoning demand of ill patients to be treated with the limited resources they have available. From the physician’s viewpoint, two extra hours without an increase in pay is cruel, unfair, and bypassing the need for more public health care providers. The issue has been hotly debated much of the last 6 months. Frequently, we have been invited to leave rounds early to attend a marcha – a public protest of the proposed change. Finally, with the Minister of Health’s announcement of the change in work hours last month, physicians decided to attack back. They went on parro: strike.
Essentially, this means only emergencies are attended to. Patients who are already hospitalized are still seen and treated, and new, “true” emergencies are cared for as well. However, all consults and other public medical visits are indefinitely cancelled. If your in Bolivia and sick, it pays to have $ right now (if you can pay, you can be seen in private offices without a problem – though even this might be changing…see last link below).
Recently, tensions escalated and social wokers, nurses, and medical students joined en parro. Many physicians are in huelga: a hunger strike, since late last week and a few have moved their beds to the entrances of the public hospitals, thereby occluding the entrances to the hospitals.
(Since NY Times, CNN, and BBC have no stories about Bolivia right now, here are some links about the strike):