Gustavo Palacios ustavopa at interserver.com.ar
Thu Feb 27 19:11:42 EST 1997


Buenos Aires, Argentine

	The National Institute of Microbiology (INM) Dr. Carlos G. Malbran (the
microbiological reference laboratory of the Health Ministry) is suffering
in 1997 a reduction of 37% in its budget for supplies and 13% in its budget
for personnel. In December 26, 1996 as part of what is called the 2nd
Reform of the Public Sector, government authorities fired 101
professionals, technicians and administrative personnel from the 7 National
Institutes of Health (being the INM the biggest of these 7 Institutes).
 	Furthermore, the Health Minister has created a new bureaucratic structure
called "A.N.L.I.S." (Administracion Nacional de Laboratorios e Institutos
de Salud) responsible in coordinate the functioning of these 7 National
Institutes of Health . The Secretary of Health Programs, Dr. Victor
Martinez says that the A.N.L.I.S. will allow solving years of
subadministration, incoordination, and anarchy in the functioning of the
National Health Institutes. We denounce the authorities of the Health
Ministry with its 2100 employees and 300 million dollars of budget as the
unique responsible of such an urging problem. Moreover, we think that the
A.N.L.I.S. with its new 40 managerial administrative positions and its own
millionaire budget will not change anything but the pockets of its members.
The solution cannot be related to new structures, budgets or positions but
to the efficient and proper functioning of the Secretaries of Health like
the one directed by Dr. Martinez, or an efficient functioning of the 2100
employees of the Health Ministry with its 300 million dollar budget
directed by the Health Minister Dr. Alberto Mazza (owner of the most
important private health system of the country). It is clear that this
reform tends to increase the central bureaucracy  debilitating the
scientific structure of the Health Institutes, and hence the surveillance
of emerging infectious diseases. Deciding Public Health goals for the
country based exclusively in short term economic yield criteria, will not
only compromise the outcomes of the National Health Programs but will also
increase the risk for new uncontrolled epidemics in the region by
jeopardizing International  Programs pursued by  the World Health
Organization, Panamerican Health Organization and others. Moreover,
different research projects being developed in the Institutes are going to
an agony that will slowly cause loosing the important "know how" the
Institutes still have.
	The professional, technical, and administrative personnel of the National
Institute for Microbiology have decided in assembly last December 12, 1996
to protest starting an ongoing strike and a peaceful 24 hour permanence of
all the staff, other affiliated personnel and fired workers at their site
of work.  On October 1996, we have proposed the transfer of funds
originally destined for equipment to the personnel item of the 1997 budget
(less than 1 million dollars/year are needed), in order to save the know
how patrimony of the Institute. Anyway, the budget for new equipment can be
recovered considering a Congress tax law already approved that assigns
extra funds to a list of Hospitals and Health Institutes (including INM).
Instead, the government has been reluctant to re-consider the political
decision responsible of this massive lay off. In this regard, the Director
of the INM has recognized that this is only a budgetary problem and is not
related with the capability of the personnel being laid off. More recently,
the Labor Minister has proposed to open discussions between the Health
Minister and the leaders of the Professional Association and the Workers
Union of the INM. He has proposed to stop the ongoing strike and permanence
in the Institute going back to the situation previous to December 12, and
to stop the lay off of the personal while opening a discussions table for
30 days. We have agreed with the proposal hoping the get a more relaxed
atmosphere where we can discuss and probe that these people are efficient
and necessary for the proper functioning of the Institute, and that the lay
off policy is not the best means to improve and efficientize the
expenditures in the Health Sector. Surprisingly, the Health Minister Dr.
Alberto Mazza, opposing the ideas of the Labor Minister has rejected the
proposal without any other explanation. It is difficult to guess what kind
of compromises Dr. Mazza already has that does not allow him to discuss
about the future of the Health Institutes.
	We suspect  that the present lay off of trained technicians,
professionals, and capable administrative personnel with specific expertise
in the many specialized areas the INM is involved, is not an isolated
budgetary problem but an organized plan destined to transfer to the private
sector the control of the public health in the country. Instead, we believe
the National Government has to control and pursue the  health of Argentine
population and cannot refuse these indelegable responsibilities. In this
regard, the previously mentioned reduction in the 1997 budget for supplies
and personnel is also accompanied by an increase in the budget for new
equipment and buildings. Without capable personnel and enough supplies,
what are we building, rebuilding and equipping laboratories for?
	Finally on February 18, the judge Dr. Emilia Garcia promulgated a
favorable sentence in the trial promoted by the Professional's Association
and the Cooperative Asociation of the INM, declaring ilegal the decree
number 658/96 of the Health Ministry that is laying off the 101 workers of
the National Institutes of Health, because this decree is jeopardizing the
Public Health of Argentine population.
	Presently, we are pursueing open discussions with the Health Minister. We
are requesting your international support by sending faxes and e-mails to
the house of representatives and argentine newspapers so we can press the
Health Minister to accept the verdict and concur to the house of
representatives for an interpelation being proposed by all the opposite
parties. The international support obtained by our previous letter located
in different discussion lists has distubed the Health Minister Dr. Alberto
Mazza and other member of the government. We expect to produce a  greatest
impact with this new one. 

Thanking you for your time and support in advance,

Dr. Alberto Mazza, Health Minister	FAX:	54-1-381-6075
Dr. Elias Jassan, Justice, Minister					ejassan at jus.gov.ar
Mr. Jorge Rodriguez, Primer Minister	FAX:   54-1-331-9658
Dr. Carlos Saul Menem, President	FAX:	54-1-342-8618
webmaster at presidencia.ar	
Dr. Carlos Ruckauf, Vice President					ruckauf at senado.gov.ar
Dr. M. C. Freire, President APROINM, 
Professional Association of the INM	FAX:	54-1-303-2210          
virus at malbra.sld.ar    
LA NACION       lanacion at starnet.net.ar
CLARIN      lectores at www.clarin.com
NOTICIAS   correo at noticias.satlink.net

Dra. Maria Cecilia Freire					Ruben Mosquera	
President APROINM					Worker Union Delegate
Professional Association of the INM			ATE - Malbran.

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