Adopted by the 72nd WMA General Assembly (online), London, United Kingdom, October 2021
Nicaragua is currently in a phase of accelerated expansion and community transmission of Covid-19. It is urgent for health authorities to promote necessary and proportionate measures to contain the progress of the pandemic.
The exponential increase in Covid-19 cases has caused a collapse of Nicaragua’s public and private healthcare system. The lack of basic medical devices has contributed to dozens of doctors and healthcare professionals becoming infected and a large number who have died.
The Nicaraguan medical profession, through more than 30 medical societies and the Covid-19 citizen observatory, has been denouncing this situation for a long time. Nonetheless, the Special Cybercrime Act approved by the Government of Nicaragua, in force since 30 December 2020, establishes sentences of 1 to 10 years in prison for all those who spread news that produces fear or anxiety in the population.
This situation of persecution is compounded by the approach to the Covid-19 pandemic, as doctors in the public sector who demanded protective measures like masks, gloves or vaccines, were dismissed under the accusation that they disrupted the public peace. Private-sector physicians who cared for patients or guided the population on self-protection measures against the pandemic were called to stop those statements, under penalty of withdrawing their licence to practice medicine or the imposition of criminal penalties, among other terrorism-related charges.
The General Assembly of the World Medical Association (WMA) hereby ratifies the letter from its president, Dr Barbe, sent on 31 August to the president of the Republic of Nicaragua, Mr Daniel Ortega, which outlines the dramatic situation suffered by Nicaraguan medical professionals and offers its support to the Declarations of 25 June 2018 and 23 August 2021 from CONFEMEL (Latin American and Caribbean Medical Confederation).
The World Medical Association (WMA) opposes and observes with extreme concern any governmental interference that threatens the freedom of professional practice and freedom of expression of any doctor. It also urges the government of Nicaragua and the members of its National Assembly:
- to protect all health professionals;
- to avoid or modify any legal regulation that may harm the professional autonomy of physicians.
The World Medical Association (WMA) also wishes to highlight the extraordinary role of Nicaraguan doctors, which is inherent to our ancient profession. It actively supports and promotes the right of everyone to receive information and medical care based solely on their clinical needs.