A motion of censure has been announced against Colombia’s Minister of Health, Guillermo Jaramillo, shortly after the reform of the sector was approved in the House of Representatives. Carolina Arbelaez, a representative for the conservative Radical Change party, voiced this intention. The politician accuses Jaramillo of causing “a healthcare crisis in the country” following issues of drug shortages, controversies with private health companies, and the minister’s recent statements against the Covid-19 vaccination process.
On the day the controversial Health reform, defended by Gustavo Petro’s government, was entirely approved, opposition parties, who have tried through various means to stop its parliamentary processing, initiated a political battle against the minister.
Response to the Health reform’s approval
Representative Carolina Arbelaez publicly announced the filing of the motion of censure against the minister through her social media channels. Arbelaez argues that the motion is motivated “by the danger his management poses to the health of all Colombians, causing a crisis in healthcare provision, financial issues, and mainly failing to fulfill his constitutional duties.”
In a press conference justifying the presentation of the censure motion, Representative Arbelaez emphasized the deep concern behind this action against the Health Minister. The congresswoman expressed that the imminent crisis in the healthcare system, exacerbated in her view by the reform’s approval without fiscal endorsement and without knowing the sources of funding, prompted this decision.
However, it’s evident that this is a response from the opposition, focusing their frustration over the unexpected approval of the controversial Health reform on the Health Minister. Now the regulation will move to the Senate for discussion starting in January, where it will face another lengthy process to secure approval.
Additionally, a problem of international scope, not confined to Colombia alone, for which the minister is directly held responsible, is the shortage of medications in the country.
“The lives of many patients with moderate to high complexity diseases, also chronic illnesses, are at risk due to the failure to take necessary measures to resolve the medication shortage crisis, which is worsening. There has been no response to alerts issued by the Office of the Attorney General of the Nation or those from the Administrative Court of Cundinamarca; criteria for efficiency and timeliness are not being met, and the necessary resources aren’t being used to prioritize the health of Colombians,” stated Representative Arbelaez.
Currently, close to 40 medications are not available in the country. Since the beginning of 2023, alerts have been issued for this situation. Mid-year, the Colombian Association of Integral Medicine Companies (Acemi) disclosed a study indicating that 1,200 active ingredients were out of stock in Colombia.
Democratic Center joins the motion
The Democratic Center party has also joined in announcing the motion of censure against the Health Minister. The party’s representative for the announcement has been Andres Forero, who, on behalf of his party, has been a strong critic of the Health reform in the House.
Although the opposition has failed to derail the reform, they continue to accuse Guillermo Jaramillo, seeking the necessary support for their attempt to oust the minister.
Forero holds Jaramillo directly responsible for the payment crisis faced by private insurers with their pharmaceutical suppliers, such as the recent crisis of the Health Insurance Company (EPS) Sanitas.
“We have denounced the non-payment of maximum budget adjustments for 2022, amounting to 819 billion pesos. Additionally, they are suffocating clinics,” stated Forero.