Health Disasters

( Translated by Nancy Beiter, a CSN volunteer translator )
Libardo Gómez Sánchez, Diario del Huila, Neiva, December 7, 2009
It’s two in the morning, and the line of users of the  Sisben seems endless near the Hernando Moncaleano University Hospital. The stories that are passed from one person to another are from the soul, somehow a reflection of the inequality that exists in the country. The latest news concerns the 3 year-old child of a young couple who was brought to the hospital  on four occasions because he had a fever  with prominent red bites on his body.  They diagnosed him as having  dengue fever  but without examining him and prescribed treatment with  acetaminophen.   It turned out to be dengue hemorrhagic fever but when it was actually diagnosed, it was too late and the child died.  The sotto voce explanation from the medical staff is that they have limited ability to get  lab tests done or to refer patients to specialists who have had their employment contracts cancelled.
Within this pathetic picture is Ana Silvia, a working mother, who, every day without fail, sits down at her sewing machine with which  she produces beautiful clothing.  The “brunette”  as her husband affectionately calls, suffers from a serious thyroid problem that has disrupted her life, and she must now stand in line once a month in the early dawn hours  with hopes of earning a ticket  to authorize her for an appointment with the doctor  to get the drug required to permanently control her hormonal imbalance.  It is amazing that every month she must recertify her chronic life-long condition. By some miracle, they did order some tests to be done, but now, for three months, she has been trying to get an appointment with the endocrinologist to have them read.  What hope of improvement can a patient have with this kind of service?
It sounds crazy but still some attribute their suffering to divine punishment, which will be offset by a better life in the afterlife, and accept the abuses of the health care system, among other things, with resignation. They are far from understanding  that the reason for their tragedy lies here on  earth and has to do with the adoption of Act 100 of 1993 that governs the country in all matters concerning the provision of health services and social protection. The first thing the law did was to discriminate against Colombians considered to be second-class, deserving of only partial attention, that is those who are enrolled in the subsidized program known as  Sisben. Needless to say, this includes more than 80% of the population reflecting the enormous poverty of Colombians who can not afford to pay for  health services. There are also those who pay the POS contributory system.  This set of rules was established to ensure the profitability of health service providers, call EPS or IPS who are designated provide a second level of service to preserve the health of Colombians. Thus the quality of service remains at odds with business profits, as doing the right thing involves higher costs which could affect the profit margins of investors. Act 100 does ensure that the EPS profits continue to remain healthy. So no matter how many prayers we give to the Lord, health service will not improve for one simple reason; it is not dependent on Him but on those who decided public health policy in Colombia and they have married their interests with those of the owners of the financial groups who are different from the  beleaguered "beneficiaries" of the system.

We have confidence that one day Colombians can give effect to the saying that “no problem will last more than 100 years without someone to fight it”

Colombia Support Network
P.O. Box 1505
Madison, WI  53701-1505
phone:  (608) 257-8753
fax:  (608) 255-6621

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