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'White tide' demonstrators take to the streets in Malaga to protect public healthcare system in Andalucía
Health

'White tide' demonstrators take to the streets in Malaga to protect public healthcare system in Andalucía

Hundreds of people joined a rally in Malaga city at the weekend demanding the regional government stop prioritising the private sector

Iván Gelibter / Ignacio Lillo

Malaga

Monday, 8 April 2024, 14:24

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Hundreds of people took to the streets of Malaga and other Andalusian cities on Sunday demanding the Junta de Andalucía regional government take public health care seriously. Called by the Marea Blanca (White Tide) movement, demonstrations took place in all of the region’s major cities and demanded a quality public health system which organisers and protesters believe has been lost in recent years.

An increase in waiting lists, the lack of health professionals among other demands were some of the main issues that surfaced on 7 April. Health worker Paqui Luque - part of the 'white tide' movement - questioned why the Andalusian government is giving priority to private healthcare over public. "We are here to demand a halt to the huge deterioration that is taking place in Andalusian public health care. We want quality public services, a public health system that responds to the needs of people in Andalucía," she said.

Luque demanded the Junta stops working "solely and exclusively" for private healthcare, saying this is the main cause of the deterioration of public healthcare. She pointed out the controversy of the former vice-minister of health, Miguel Angel Guzman, who last week had to resign from his position as medical director of Asisa after a report of its board deemed it a conflict of interest. "They don't even hide it any more, they say it openly. The previous councillor went so far as to say that he was the councillor for the private and public sector, but then he worked mainly to strengthen the private sector," Luque said. "I believe that citizens have to say 'enough', because if we don't do it in a situation like the one we are suffering right now, we will never do it," she added.

PSOE and IU

In addition to the 'white tide' movement, those attending as individuals and political representatives of the left-wing parties also made an appearance and harshly criticised Juanma Moreno's government.

PSOE spokesperson Pepe Bernal said his socialist party would not let the issue pass. "We will continue to defend public health care 365 days a year because it is the one that generates more equality for all Malaga citizens," he said. At a press conference before the start of the rally in Malaga city, Bernal demanded the government guarantee "the universal right of our public health for patients and professionals, which has been the star of policies of the last 40 years and now we see how it is declining because of the PP's interest in encouraging private healthcare".

Bernal also referenced last week's controversy, and said with the 44 million euros awarded by the management of the former councillor Miguel Angel Guzman to the private health system, all the clinics in the province could have been bolstered, "which are in a deplorable state". The money also could have gone towards building eight new health centres or hiring more than 1,200 health workers "which are necessary to, among others, shorten waiting lists".

IU Malaga party spokesperson Toni Morillas gave an overview of the "extreme" situation occurring in health centres in places such as Teba, Ardales and other parts of the province, and criticised the Andalusian government for having "showered money" on private centres to the detriment of the public health system.

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