Parents on hunger strike outside the Ministry of Health in Mexico City. Parents protest outside the Ministry of Health in Mexico City.

Parents of cancer patients on hunger strike to protest med shortages

They say the problem goes back at least two years

Nine parents of children with cancer began a hunger strike outside the offices of the federal Health Ministry in Mexico City on Wednesday to protest the shortages of cancer medications that have threatened their children’s chances for survival for at least two years.

Reports of understaffed and understocked hospitals began to pop up last spring when the effects of federal budget cuts began to set in. Despite several promises from the federal government to solve the problem, parents are still having trouble getting the life-saving cancer drugs their children need.

The parents said they will continue their strike until Health Minister Jorge Alcocer Varela speaks with them and offers a solution to a problem they say goes back two years.

“We still lack the same medications — cyclophosphamide, vincristine, daunorubicin —  and in the face of the indolence of the federal government … nine of us parents decided to begin an indefinite hunger strike outside the ministry offices as an act of nonviolent civil disobedience to put pressure on the [government],” said Luis Olvera, a father participating in the protest.

He and other parents said they will hold the federal government responsible for any physical damages they may incur during their hunger strike.

“We don’t want to come out here. We know that we’re putting ourselves at risk, but we have to do it because they’re always shrugging us off. They promise us that there won’t be a shortage, and the situation in the hospitals doesn’t change. [They] don’t even answer our calls,” said Olvera.

The Health Ministry announced on Monday that a plane carrying cancer medications arrived from Argentina, but the protesting parents said that they have yet to be distributed. The medicines must first be inspected by the federal health regulatory agency before that can happen.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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