LA PAZ – Bolivian President Evo Morales welcomed on Tuesday the end of the “political strike” by the country’s doctors, who for 47 days had ceased work to protest the government’s planned regulation of the sector.
“We salute the doctors and workers who never went on strike – they have the vocation of service – and those who allowed the political strike that caused so much harm to thousands of sick people to be lifted,” Morales wrote on Twitter after the announcement Monday evening of the end of the impasse.
The president emphasized the willingness of his administration to work “for a sensible, solid, universal and free health care service.”
Bolivia’s physicians announced late Monday the end of the strike that seriously affected the provision of public health services after reaching an agreement with the government to prepare new legislation and shelve the bill that had already been drafted by the administration.
The health care workers launched their effort in late November against an article in Bolivia’s Penal Code mandating penalties, including jail time, for medical malpractice and against a decree to create an entity to control and monitor their work.
Morales last week announced the revocation of that article, and the Parliament – where the Movement for Socialism, which backs Morales, holds sway – was scheduled on Tuesday to nullify it.
The government argued that the strike was staged by political forces opposing the government and favoring private health care, thus creating a nationwide emergency with the postponement of more than 800,000 medical appointments and 10,000 surgeries.
In early March, a national health care conference promoted by the government is scheduled with the aim of moving forward on developing a universal and free health care system for the entire population.