Physician leaders call for end to repression against health professionals

The World Medical Association has called on the Nicaraguan Government to end its repressive regime against physicians and other health professionals for protesting about the way in which the Covid-19 pandemic is being handled.

In a strongly worded letter to the Nicaraguan President, the WMA describes as ‘shameful’ reports that hundreds of physicians and other health professionals have been dismissed for disobeying a government order that people injured during protests should not receive medical care.

The letter from WMA President Dr. David Barbe, says: ‘We learnt that since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the government has not carried out containment measures and has concealed information on the spread of the virus. In addition, despite the death of an unknown number of health professionals due to the disease, the government still does not give priority to the health sector for the allocation of vaccines against Covid-19 as recommended by WHO.

‘Physicians raising their voices against this appalling management of the pandemic are threatened, risk having their medical license withdrawn and face four years imprisonment under the cybercrime law. Those from the public sector who called on the population to protect themselves, have been dismissed. Fifteen medical associations in the country that criticized the government have had their legal status removed. A growing number of physicians are leaving the country as a result, weakening the Nicaraguan health workforce.

‘This accumulation of dismaying evidence reflects an unprofessional and shameful management of the pandemic. As physicians truly committed to the well-being of all, based on affordable and quality health care, we can only condemn it in the strongest terms. It is all the more revolting that those physicians and other health professionals dedicating their lives to save others are the first ones to be targeted with threats and repression.’

The letter ends by urging the Nicaraguan Government to put an immediate end to ‘this punitive action’ against physicians and other health professionals so that they can exercise their profession in line with their medical ethics commitments without fear of reprisal, and to protect health professionals and the whole population in Nicaragua from Covid-19’.