December 4, 2017
The state-run health care system in the Dominican Republic has declined considerably in recent years due to rampart corruption, poor management and a drive to privatize health care.
Plagued by understaffing, lack of infrastructure and most of all, basic medications and vital medical equipment, public hospitals still serve a large segment of the population who play a part in defending their right to proper health care services.
The hard truth is that not doing anything to defend public healthcare in the Dominican Republic is akin to a death sentence for many, and in particular, vulnerable segments of the population like working class women and children.
On Nov. 30, a group of children held a protest in front of the Doctor Arturo Grullón hospital in Santiago, the second largest city, to demand that the government of President Danilo Medina provide the hospital with a scanner, reports Máximo Laureano in Acento. Accompanied by their parents, the children also demanded government renovate the surgery unit.
The children carried placards and wore masks that symbolized death, a theatrical element meant to highlight the death of children and others due to lack of medical supplies and surgery rooms. Protesters believe these deaths are easy to prevent.
In October, a protest staged by several organizations representing 14 provinces displayed coffins on the sidewalk. Each coffin symbolized each province that suffers the consequences of not having a fully equipped hospital.
This is not the first time people staged a protest in front of the hospital. In 2014, nurses at the Arturo Grullón hospital staged a picket where they listed some of their demands to improve patient care.
The spark for the children’s protest began in March of this year when Christian pastor and activist Pablo Ureña staged a fasting protest for a week while chained to the hospital. According to the report by independent journalist Máximo Laureano, Ureña denounced that “the hospital did not have a medical scanner and that out of six surgery units, only one is functional”.
The children’s protest is also part of a larger trend of social protest that includes labor stoppages and strikes by both nurses and doctors as well as anti-corruption mobilizations led by the Marcha Verde movement since last January.