President Sebastian Piñera wants the Chilean state to buy health services from private clinics.
Chile’s human rights groups, consumer associations, health organizations and social movements take to the streets Thursday to protest neoliberal reforms to the National Health Fund (Fonasa), which were proposed by President Sebastian Piñera, whose government recently faced massive protests and strikes carried out by teachers, students and mine workers across the country.
The Piñera administration is proposing that the public sector buys health services from private clinics. To that effect, the Chilean state would transfer millionaire resources from Fonasa, which serves over 80 percent of the population, to the Preventive Health Institutions (Isapres).
Currently, these private entities, which were created by Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship in 1981, receive monthly compulsory contributions equivalent to 7 percent of a person's taxable salary.
"Health is a right for everyone, regardless of how much a person earns. That is why we propose universal health insurance that provides protection to all... In this way the youngest and healthiest people can collaborate with the health of those who need it the most," Miguel Crispi, a Democratic Revolution lawmaker, explained in a post on social media.
Actions in defense of "the right to worthy, timely, free and universal public health care" began on Thursday morning at health centers and hospitals, where open assemblies were held to inform people about the consequences of the Piñera conservative reforms.
In Santiago, the capital city, Chileans gathered at the Constitution Square at midday. Later the demonstrators marched to the Health Ministry to hold a sit-in.
At 7:30 p.m., citizens will gather at hospitals and squares of the main Chilean cities to hold a night vigil in defense of their rights.
"National protest for the right to health. The North zone block, which was advancing towards the Constitution Square, was harshly repressed by military special forces. Workers and patients are participating in the march."
The July 4 health-related mobilization takes place one day after thousands of Chileans took to the streets to support teachers who have been on a national strike for more than a month.
A local polling company, Criteria Research, published Thursday a survey which revealed that only 27 percent of Chileans approve of President Piñera's performance in office.
Among the main reasons for disapproving the right-wing government, the citizens pointed out that Piñera "has not delivered what he promised" (20 percent), he "governs for the few" (16 percent), "there is a lack of concern for people with less income" (13 percent), he "does not accept social demands" (12 percent) and "there is a poor management of education" (11 percent).