After a 10-hour overnight marathon session, leaders of the Bolivian government and the country’s leading medical association, the Medical School of Bolivia, have announced an agreement to collectively recreate the country’s medical system, putting an end to its 40-day strike.
Minister of Government Carlos Romera told the press Tuesday morning that the sides agreed to create a new healthcare law with public participation and a new commission. The National Institute of Conciliation and Arbitration will now oversee the public and private healthcare systems with the intent of creating a more transparent and effective healthcare system in Bolivia, among other provisions.
Last week, the administration of President Evo Morales called for the talks after state doctors and medical professionals went on strike, rejecting Article 205 of the newly-proposed Penal Code that would sanction professional negligence and criminalizes medical malpractice.
Tuesday's announcement ended protests and a 40-day strike by medical professionals that was initiated by the Medical Association of Bolivia.
According to the government, the doctors' strike forced the suspension of at least 10,000 surgeries in the country. Officials were demanding the talks and an end to the strike "for humanitarian reasons."
Just last week, Morales announced the establishment of a free healthcare model “for the people” of Bolivia.
“We are going to debate with social movements, with institutions and all sectors to reach a new system where brothers and sisters can easily access (healthcare)”, Morales said during a contract signing ceremony for a new hospital in the town of Coripata last Wednesday.
During his speech, the president reported that the country’s 2016-2020 social-economic development plan aims to achieve universal access to health, with 200 projects underway in order to achieve this.
Today’s accords call for the new medical law to be passed by June of 2019, though the agreement package is still tentative as the president of the Medical School of Bolivia, Anival Cruz, still needs the approval of regional medical unions and associations.