9 April 2024, El Espectador

On 7 April 1948, the World Health Organisation was founded, and on 9 April Jorge Eliécer Gaitán was assassinated. The 7th was established as World Health Day and the 9th was the Day of Remembrance and Solidarity with the Victims of Armed Conflict.

I bring both dates to today’s Pazaporte to explain why health and victims are on our minds.

The health of 26 million Colombians is now in the hands of the State, and no one has told us, with figures, cases and ways, how half the country will be taken care of. We had warned successive governments that the Law 100 system needed a major intervention because it was not viable with a largely inadequate capitation unit (UPC). We pointed out – at some risk – that it was essential to do justice because some incompetent and/or dishonest EPSs had been created who not only stole money but cast a shadow over the system and failed to deliver for their members. We explained a hundred times why, in a country like Colombia, the models that work for the cities do not work for the rural population, and we pointed out the importance of redesigning policies and mechanisms to strengthen health promotion and disease prevention. We knew that reform was needed, but we insisted that what had been so painstakingly built and successfully saved millions of lives should not be discarded. “Building on what had been built” meant not throwing away learning curves, infrastructure and knowledge that had proven to be responsible and effective. But “concertar” turned out to be an impossible verb to conjugate; ideology was added to something that needed efficiency and know-how, and the last straw was the intervention in Sánitas, one of Colombia’s best EPSs, and Compensar’s letter, which “committed suicide” before they came for it.

Instead of trying to do what was not achieved in Congress, it would have been better to answer the questions that the legislators rightly asked: How much will the reform cost, and who will guarantee its financing? What will the care pathways look like? What will happen during the transition period? Who will continue to provide medicines? Too many questions were left unanswered, and the reform became an issue of sides and threats.

The health ministers of this government have done a bad, very bad job and someone must bring back the conciliatory Petro we saw in the campaign, the candidate who called for unity and synergy.

With respect and fear, I beg you, Mr President! Less ideology and more common sense. The government alone will not be able to respond. Duque wanted to break the peace and we are still paying the consequences. You don’t want to destroy health, but we are on the brink of the abyss and if we fall, no one, absolutely no one, will benefit.

9 April, Day of the Victims. Tributes, mourning, and promises. Until one day, at last, “Never again” will be true.

Every time a gunshot stops the heartbeat of a social leader, every time a peace signatory is shot in the back, every time a recruited girl’s childhood is torn away from her, every time a deserter is shot, it is a day of mourning in our almanac of dejected souls?

In this country of ours, so barbaric and purist, we have filled ourselves with subtitles for all violence. But none of it is the product of chance or the vengeance of the gods, and it is up to us to decide to end it without more shootings. We are so broken inside that we are more afraid of peace than of war… but we are not insurmountable, nor is life a dead letter, so let’s not waste any more time, and let’s start mending each other, like sewing humanity.

The original article can be found here