Protesting health workers march in Oaxaca. Protesting health workers march in Oaxaca city.

With locks and chains workers close hospital

Doctors and nurses continue their strike in Oaxaca

Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat Hinojosa has declared his intention to sort out the finances of the state’s health system but so far, almost 14 months after taking office, there hasn’t been much more than protests and strikes to show for it.

Yesterday, striking doctors and nurses stepped up their protest by putting locks and chains on the entrances to the Aurelio Valdivieso general hospital in Oaxaca city.

The strike began last week throughout the state in hospitals and health centers by employees protesting that they had not been paid their year-end bonuses or their January 15 salaries, a situation that has been recurring since Murat’s predecessor, Gabino Cué, was governor.

Now medical staff are also demanding the re-hiring of some 2,000 of their colleagues who were fired as part of a move to eliminate what the state says are surplus staff.

Health Secretary Juan Díaz Pimentel said earlier this month that the state has an “inflated” health payroll with 8,000 employees more than it needs, representing a cost to state coffers of more than 5 billion pesos (almost US $259 million) annually.

This week’s strike has partially suspended activities in at least 14 hospitals and 230 rural clinics.

Governor Murat explained yesterday that the firing of health workers who had been improperly hired is part of a broader strategy aimed at attempting to prevent the bankruptcy of the state’s health sector and clean up its finances.

He also said that the delays in the payment of salaries and bonuses stemmed from faults in the federal administration of the Seguro Popular health care program, which have now been resolved. He said payments will begin this week.

Murat explained that a three-pronged approach has been implemented to fix the system:

• Going after those responsible for embezzlement, including former health and finance secretaries Germán Tenorio Vasconcelos, Enrique Arnaud Viñas and Gerardo Cajiga Estrada.

• Providing the necessary supplies for all medical centers.

• Purging the health sector payroll.

Murat said the status of many of the health workers believed to have been irregularly hired is still being analyzed in an “open” process.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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