Ecuadorian government removes health minister four days before elections

Mauro Falconí is the fourth person in charge of health policy since the pandemic began and leaves the post due to the chaos in the vaccination of the elderly in hospitals in Quito.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Ecuadorian Minister of Health lasted only 19 days in office – the same 19 days as his predecessor.

President of Ecuador Lenín Moreno asked Mauro Falconí to resign this Wednesday night, four days before the elections, due to the disorganization in the vaccination of elderly people in the hospitals of Quito. In some cases, the waiting lines have been unsuccessful because the doses against Covid-19 had not arrived on time, even though appointments had been scheduled.

Falconí is the fourth head of health policy since the first case of coronavirus was detected in Ecuador on February 29, 2020. He will be replaced by Camilo Salinas.

Mauro Falconí is the fourth person in charge of health policy since the pandemic began and leaves the post due to the chaos in the vaccination of the elderly in hospitals in Quito. (Photo internet reproduction)

Falconí starred in a controversial audio, leaked from a videoconference meeting with the ministry’s provincial coordinators, in which he angrily pressured his subordinates for not even having a database on people vaccinated and to be vaccinated.

The outrage occurred on March 29th when 182,329 Ecuadorians had already received the first dose and 62,537 the second. The million vaccines from the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac, which had been scheduled for March, had not yet landed in the country and, in fact, began to arrive on Wednesday with the first 300,000.

“I don’t have the inventory of vaccines”, Falconí told his team, “and this same meeting will be attended right now by the representative of the engineer Jorge Wated (cabinet secretary of the presidency); Martha Moncayo, representative of CNT (public telecommunications company), and the representative of the vice-presidency of the Republic and I want you to listen to the barbarities that are happening in the Ministry of Public Health and the lack of data, which I don’t have. What is happening? Why the hell don’t we have data?”, he claimed loudly.

A week before, Lenín Moreno publicly acknowledged that the national vaccination plan that should have started in mid-January with the arrival of the first batch of 8,000 vaccines was non-existent and that it was only in “the head” of the minister who managed the pandemic for almost a year, Juan Carlos Zevallos. He resigned, left the country immediately and was replaced by Rodolfo Farfán, who did not reach a month in the post before Falconí was appointed.

According to the Andean country’s president, Falconí “worked a whole weekend without rest” to elaborate the vaccination plan. That recognition turned into a public reproach on Wednesday when he announced his departure. “Our seniors deserve the utmost respect. What happened today has no justification. I have requested the resignation of the Minister of Health and he will be replaced by Dr. Camilo Salinas,” Moreno tweeted.

The outrage occurred on March 29th when 182,329 Ecuadorians had already received the first dose and 62,537 the second. (Photo internet reproduction)

The now former minister has been in isolation for having been infected with coronavirus a week after assuming the health portfolio.

Ecuador is at the gates of the presidential elections to be held this Sunday at the peak of Covid-19 cases, with hospitals without available intensive care beds. Since last Friday, a state of emergency and a curfew from eight o’clock in the evening will limit mobility until midnight this Friday.

Sunday’s vote will not be altered or postponed, according to the authorities, because of the health crisis.

Source: El Pais

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