The Colombian “Health Care System” generates enormous profit to private health businesses and thousands of deaths, economic ruin and disease to Colombian victims. The State whose obligation it is to protect us, on the contrary, mistreats and abandons us allowing, promoting and protecting profit gained through our suffering. We are attempting to organize ourselves to resist and to demand health care as our fundamental human right, but we face an elaborate machinery of deceit and power at the service of a private business. The story of a victim and her mother, which we share here, is one of many. We appeal to the humanity, the solidarity and awareness of men and women throughout the world to support Mireya´s rights and with her, to join in support for our efforts to denounce and transform a criminal machinery established as the Colombian Health Care System. The “Health Care System in Colombia kills: hence, we are forced to call upon everyone to seek and achieve alternatives for life.
The health system in Colombia has been hurting, causing disease, ruining and killing millions of Colombians. The State, whose obligation it is to protect us, instead abandons us, denies our rights, while allowing and protecting profit accumulation from and through our suffering. We attempt to organize to resist and demand health provision as a fundamental right, but we are faced with a fraudulent machinery at the service of private accumulation. The story we share below is one amongst many. We call for solidarity, awareness and support from everyone for Mireya and because her story illustrates a shameful reality affecting a brave hard-working woman and her family, and it helps to expose and hopefully transform a criminal system. What is recognized as the health system in Colombia kills, maims and ruins. Please share our word, this specific complaint and story and join us in our struggle for alternatives.
A woman, Mireya Beltran Rodriguez is 49 years old and going through a very difficult time in her life. She suffers from leukemia and has a breast tumor. Her mother, Agueda Rodriguez, is 80 years old and also has leukemia. The private health insurance company: (EPS in Spanish) Saludcoop has denied essential life preserving medications. The right to health care is hence denied to her as it is to most Colombians. Locked-in by disease and poverty, they are condemned to wait for a slow death at home. Mireya was forced into retirement as a result of the privatization of Telecom, (The State Communications company), but three years ago, the Constitutional Court of Colombia froze pension payments to more than 400 forcibly retired workers, among them Mireya. She is alone in-charge of her household, with a handicapped son, suffering from an economic calamity. Mireya cannot leave her house worried that if she does, the water company of the city of Villavicencio, where she lives, will cancel this essential service, which she cannot afford to pay. Mireya deserves and desperately needs to have her rightfully earned pension to be paid to address her economic dire straights in order to struggle for her right to much needed and deserved health care provision for her mother and herself.
In Colombia, there are thousands of invisible situations like the one Mireya faces alone. Let us act for justice with her and through her with the thousands suffering in silence and dispossession. These are not unfortunate exceptions or special cases. The Colombian “Health Care System” enshrined as law since 1993 (Ley 100), conceives health as business for profit. The private enterprises that control and benefit from this legislation were labeled “Health Promoting Enterprises” (Empresas Promotoras de Salud – EPS in Spanish). These EPS have been granted power and control over resources paid by all Colombians for the provision of their health care. They restrict health service provision at every level of care based on criteria of maximum economic gain for the EPS, at minimal expense, sacrificing and systematically denying basic established health service provision based on universal standards of care. The EPS deny access to required medication and therapies while delaying vital and indicated treatments . As a result of this profit-oriented structure, thousands of people have and are dying while they try to access care and treatment and many more dye at the doors of the hospitals where their right to health care is being denied. All his has to stop. Mireya and her mother cannot be allowed to become another statistic within the “death row” for profit, imposed with the euphemism of “Health Care System” to violate the fundamental right to health for Colombians.
As a reaction to a widespread exposure of the corruption and criminal character, which is structural to this system, the Colombian government was forced to act. Unfortunately, it tabled legislation to Congress for a Health Care Reform, which is falsely being promoted as a solution to the abuses committed by the EPS. The truth is that this legislation, being debated in Congress by a majority of parliamentarians linked to the private sector that profits from the existing structure, will deepen the existing crisis. For example, the proposed reform ends with a legal recourse (tutela) through which, those denied health care, can present their case to a Judge who can order the required treatment to be provided by the EPS. For those who have been able to use it, this constitutional mechanism has saved many lives and addressed suffering in-spite of the on-going efforts of the EPS to ignore them. The new legislation considers health resources as privately owned once transferred to the EPS, hence, beyond the reach of a constitutional claim for public resources. Instead, the new law would establish a different legal mechanism, run by the very EPS now denying the provision of care. The victims would have to ask those who victimize them for assistance. The government, under public pressure, promised to dismantle the EPS, but in the legislation proposed, these will only change their names to EGS (Health Management Firms or Empresas Gestoras de Salud in Spanish). The “new Health System” is a full circle turn from the current situation to maintain privileges, private profit and the denial of health care, except, as it is proposed to address the existing problems, these will in fact become worse and more covered up. What will improve significantly is the private sector income from health care denial and abuse. If this reform is approved, more Colombians, like Mireya and her mom will agonize in misery until their death, while a few drain public health coffers for private profit.
Active sectors of society with longstanding experience, research an knowledge of health have tabled a Health Care Reform proposal to Congress, whose fundamental principle, in contrast to the existing and proposed government legislation, is to create a health care system where profit is subordinated to granting universal, timely, appropriate and quality care to all peoples. Within this legislation, granting health care provision would be a responsibility of the State under whose supervision private and public institutions would provide services. Feasible, firm and reliable control mechanisms are being proposed to control resources and provide care. This public based proposal requires and deserves all support possible so that it is not ignored by the profit makers and their counterparts in Congress and the Government as will be the case should a loud public outcry expressing support for it is not heard loud and clear. We cannot be accused of complaining without proposing alternatives. The truth is that we have been mobilizing and making proposals for a long time, now collected within this reform legislation proposal tabled, while we must give a voice to denounce the horror that is and has been taking place. Mireya and her mother are just two of the many situations that will not continue to occur should our reform be approved.
If Mireya was my sister and Agueda was my mother, what would I do to demand that her needs are looked after and so that this abuse would stop once and for all?
To begin to help, you can join us in signing this petition demanding immediate provision of appropriate care for Mireya Beltrán Rodríguez and her mother Agueda Rodríguez; so that no-one else suffers this type of martyrdom; so that the heinous legislation in place (Ley 100) is repealed and the new Government proposed legislation is not approved; so that Justice, Truth and Reparation for the victims of the criminal health care system of Colombia: and so that the popular legislation which grants the provision of health care as a fundamental, universal human right is considered and enshrined into law. No more Mireyas and Aguedas, Never Again to a criminal system for profit from our health care resources.