Interns march in Mexico City today. Interns march in Mexico City today.

Medical interns call national strike over scholarships, insecurity

They are also concerned about working conditions in isolated areas

Medical interns are striking across the nation today to protest against any reduction of scholarship payments and to express their concern over working conditions and insecurity even as the government says there will be no cuts to training stipends.

In Mexico City, interns marched from the central square to the Health Secretariat while chanting “there is no austerity in health,” the newspaper Reforma reported.

Graduate doctors, nurses and other medical professionals claim that the government is planning to reduce the number of scholarships for interns and cut the amount they are paid even though the health department said in a statement yesterday that is not the case.

“No student that is fulfilling their social service will be left unprotected as there will be no reduction or suspension of the resource allocated to that end,” the statement said.

“The Secretariat of Health has a sufficient budget to pay 52,250 scholarships in 2019, an amount that is the same as . . . in 2018 and 2017.”

However, a member of the Mexican Assembly of Social Service Medical Interns told the newspaper El Universal that the payment of scholarships is not the only cause of concern.

“Today 54,000 medicine graduates should be starting their social service but that won’t be the case because positions were not assigned well in all states,” Roberto Gallardo said.

“The [protest] movement goes beyond scholarships, it’s not just about money but also so they [the government] see and know the conditions in which we work. There are very serious security issues,” Gallardo added.

Protesters in Mexico City demanded that the government provide security guarantees for interns posted to positions in isolated and marginalized communities and establish a national plan to improve conditions in rural healthcare centers.

Gallardo said that interns need certainty that they won’t be assaulted while working in a marginalized area but added that if it does happen, they need to have support.

He also said that interns are often “responsible for healthcare centers that don’t have equipment and supplies.”

Gallardo told El Universal that no member of the government has spoken with the disgruntled interns, adding that while President López Obrador says that sufficient resources have been allocated to pay scholarships and cover healthcare expenses in general, state health services say otherwise.

Nursing intern Luisa Fernanda Segura told Reforma that the government’s austerity measures have left hospitals and clinics without the materials they need to operate effectively.

“There is a shortage of medications and materials that we need in day-to-day life in the hospital.”

Source: El Universal (sp), Reforma (sp) 

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