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Mediķi vēlas I. Circenes atkāpšanos pirms vēlēšanām

Medics’ lobby still seeks change of health minister

Latvia’s leading professional organizations of health care workers, already calling for ailing Health Minister Ingrīda Circene’s resignation, say finding a replacement for her is imperative during the period before Saeima elections in October. Latvia’s health care sector has long been frustrated awaiting the effects of reform programs implemented over the course of successive governments.

Chairman Valdis Keris of the Latvian Health Care and Social Workers’ Union expressed disappointment that the governing coalition would rush hikes to the defense budget while simultaneously slashing appropriations for health care from 3.5% to 3% of GDP despite promises to raise it to 4.5% under Circene’s watch. He said the union’s primary demand is to see a professional and politically powerful minister who can secure proper state funding.

“One might ask just who will the army be protecting when all of us in Latvia have gone extinct? And then what kind of army is that full of sick and weak soldiers? Already foreign investors have pointed the government’s sights toward the poor access and quality issues which are already affecting the quality of Latvia’s workforce. I feel this is a perfectly clear and serious signal that the government has finally got to do something,” stressed the union leader.

Rural Family Doctors’ Association leader Līga Kozlovska said it was important to change the minister soon, before the elections.

“You could say – three months, let the former minister keep on doing nothing, or otherwise immediately recruit a ‘technical minister’ who does the daily dirty work any other minister should be doing. But then nothing gets done updating the public about the problem,” she explained.  

President Andris Bērziņš has previously stated a solution should be found by July 7. Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma, who is filling the portfolio during her absence, has also held off on asking Circene to step down, particularly in the face of her ongoing recovery from recent spinal surgery.  

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