Oaxaca's new health secretary, Juan Díaz. Oaxaca's new health secretary, Juan Díaz.

Secretariat overstaffed by 8,000 employees

44% of Oaxaca's health workers are surplus to the state's needs, secretary says

Eight-thousand government employees in Oaxaca are about to lose their jobs because the state’s Health Secretariat is grossly overstaffed and draining resources sorely needed to provide other services.

The state’s new health secretary, Juan Díaz Pimentel, said the cost of having such a large surplus of personnel was more than 5 billion pesos (almost US $259 million) annually.

That surplus represents 44% of the 18,000 people employed by the Health Secretariat.

Governor Alejandro Murat has stated that he inherited an “inflated” payroll from his predecessor, Gabino Cué.

Díaz, who was sworn in this week, said Murat has instructed him to restore order to the department because the current levels of expenditure have led to an annual deficit of more than 1.7 billion pesos (US $88 million), a situation that is affecting the operations of the state’s hospitals.

“The deficit that the Health Secretariat is working with is overwhelming and will have to be restructured . . .” he said, adding that the little money the government has is needed for more pressing matters.

However, Díaz stressed that dismissals would only follow after a needs assessment has been carried out.

“We’re not going to arrive and fire people, we’re going to restructure, and those who are not needed will have to go, because the Secretariat of Health will not be the Secretariat of Employment. Its mission is to offer health, not employment,” he stated.

Since Murat took office just over a year ago, Díaz said, the governor had started to resolve the crisis of a health system that was both paralyzed and sullied by corruption.

“. . . there was no medicine, no money to pay the workers, or money to run the hospitals . . .” he said.

In July last year Murat said the health system under the Cué administration was “pillaged” and the sector was the worst affected in a governorship plagued by “endless corruption.”

The former health secretary, Germán Tenorio, was detained last year for abuse of authority and embezzlement while at the helm of the agency during Cué’s term.

Díaz added that he would seek to collaborate with local politicians to restructure the secretariat and blamed poor state governments and apathy on the part of the federal administration for the dire economic position of the department.

However, he denied that he had assumed the role of health secretary in order to create confrontation. “I arrive with the intention of bringing order,” he said.

He also said that he did not want to get involved in blackmail with unions and called on them to work together for the common good.

“I am not, nor will I be the executioner. I’m here to exercise the best of my efforts to rescue the efficiency of the state Health Secretariat . . .” he said.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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