Prime Minister Manuel Marrero's words blaming health personnel for the current health crisis generated by Covid-19 on the island have opened up a Pandora's box; the official claimed that citizens' complain more about bad care than a lack of medicines, triggering a wave of pushback by doctors.
Dr. Lixander Ramos Ávila, a primary care GP, posted a message on Facebook to express his support for "all those doctors who decided to defend themselves against Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz's humiliating allegation against Cuban doctors."
The doctor complained that "the collapse of the public health system in Cuba is not the doctors' fault or responsibility. We're not to blame for the fact that there are no more ambulances, that there are no medicines, oxygen, beds or means of protection for health personnel."
If he wants to look for culprits, the young doctor urged the minister to look around, "and he will find them, or look anywhere except for the health sector, as we are the ones on the front line" against Covid-19.
He also reminded him that Cuban doctors are working under "appalling conditions, without the protection, supplies or means necessary for proper patient care."
Although he does not question those doctors who decided not to work, he pointed out that those who "are there working like never before, because there are few, have not had time off for a year and a half or more, are on duty every two or three days, with some spending more than 30 hours straight at the hospital " and "are placing their families at risk "because they don't work for money" but rather BECAUSE THEY LOVE BEING DOCTORS."
"How can you blame us for this current situation when the real problem is the current government's ineffectual management? I, personally, demand a public apology," he concluded.
Meanwhile, on Facebook Dr. Alexánder Pupo published two videos produced on August 15 and 16 in which dozens of Holguin doctors speak out to state that the collapse of the health system is not the fault of the medical personnel, and plead for the means of protection and supplies necessary to do their work.
"Our healthcare system has fallen apart. Our patients need help. We need help. We don't want more people to die," said Dr. Julio C. Hernández, a resident in Angiology and Vascular Surgery.
Dr. Reinier Ávalos, a specialist in Internal Medicine, complained of the "healthcare collapse in the province of Holguín," and demanded "that we be treated with respect and given the means of protection needed to be able to work properly."
Dr. Jorge L. Baez, a specialist in Angiology and Vascular Surgery, requested more support from the authorities for health personnel and "fewer demands, fewer complaints. We need medicines, we need means of protection," he expressed.
"We want to keep working, we want to keep saving lives. We're not the culprits of the medical collapse in our country" declared Dr. Daily C. Almaguer, a Angiology and Vascular Surgery resident.
Dr. Linda I. Green, a specialist in Neurosurgery, called for "the working conditions necessary for all of us health workers," and that medicine and supply needs be met "to provide our people with adequate care."
Concurring were doctors Lianet González, Pedro E. Infante, Oscar E. López, Luis Miranda, Anyer Rojas, Víctor Fernández, Lisyanis Ortiz, Brenda A. Barea, Betsy Abed, Daniela Sánchez, Emilio Cruz, Leonardo Borrego, Richard Castro, Yanima Leyva, Blanca (no surname appears), Vladimir García and nurse Juan M. Acosta.
The complaints by Holguín medical staff began on August 15 at the Vladimir Ilich Lenin Hospital. There, doctors Ramón Villamil Soto, Bárbara González Pérez, Alejandro Eduardo Forés, Claudia Yuliet Consuegra, Rafael Alejandro Fuentes, Mario Cardona, Milagro Aguilera, María Eugenia Rodríguez, Carina Caridad Rojas, Francisco Pavón and Héctor Alejandro Santiesteban, among others, transmitted their messages.
Doctors from other health facilities in the province, and medical students, who have also worked long hours and suffered from the shortage of medicines and means of protection, backed the initiative to respond to the accusation that they are responsible for the health crisis.