June 22, 2010

Honduras in state of emergency (again)

dengue epidemic

President Pepe Lobo interrupted the news tonight for a national cadena, in which he declared Honduras to be in a state of emergency because of a dengue epidemic (a very serious mosquito-borne flu-like illness). Ten people have died from dengue hemorrágico, which can be a fatal form of the disease if not treated. Police and military will be ensuring that all hospitals stay open 24-hours per day.

The Minister of Health has been authorized to contract for whatever supplies and with whatever personnel are necessary. The sad truth is that these states of emergency are usually just a license to steal. Will anyone audit the expenses or the personnel contracted? How many will be hired for their family ties rather than their medical abilities?

This was our first cadena national in about six months and I was scared waiting for it to start for two solid minutes! BTW, I don't care for the choice of music and video; it doesn't go with the nature of an emergency. Micheletti's was much better.

dengue epidemicA few interesting facts not mentioned are:

More than 10,200 people have been affected by dengue classico, and 400 by dengue hemorrágico (DH) so far this year. In 2009, there were 14,528 classic dengue cases, 604 cases of DH, and 12 deaths. This year 70% of the cases have been in the Tegucigalpa area.

No government has declared a state of emergency for dengue since 2002, when there was 32,000 cases.

The hospital personnel union has been on strike since June 11 and have "taken" hospital buildings and health centers, which may have something to do with the police and military being involved.

An announcement was made yesterday that one or more of the large hospitals are out of IV fluids, something that is crucial to keep DH patients alive.

The Minister of Health yesterday also announced that hospitals would not treat dengue, only DH, and that dengue patients would have to go the health centers. (The initial symptoms are the same and by the time that the hemorrhagic symptoms arise, it is sometimes too late.)

The Minister de Trabajo (work) announced today that there are not economic conditions for an increase in the minimum wage which could have caused huge nationwide strikes....except that now the police and military will be out on the streets to prevent that.

Lobo arrived home to Honduras today from a 10-day trip to South Africa for the World Cup.


Currently the teachers are on strike, public employees' retirement fund union, the National Registry of Persons, and Hondutel (telephone company) employees' unions are on strike, just to name the major ones. CUTH (confederation of workers unions) announced suspension of their measures to press for a minimum wage increase due to the health crisis. CUTH had previously announced "taking" of the roads in the entire Honduran territory.

Here is another interesting fact: In 2006, when Mel Zelaya took office, government salaries were L. 3.8 billion. In 2009, government salaries were around L. 32.0 billion.

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