Nicaraguan pediatrician Marlon Jose Soza Chavarria, who had publicly complained to President Daniel Ortega that the doctors had no way of buying masks, passed away on Wednesday, June 29, due to COVID-19. His family members made the announcement.
The 49-year-old doctor was a follower of Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front. He died at the “Monte Espana” Hospital in Managua, his former workplace, where he had been under treatment since May 22.
“One thing I’m going to say to our government: it’s not right that in [the supermarket] La Colonia they’re selling masks for 2,100 cordobas [approximately US $61) a box, while the pharmacies have none. It’s not right that the N95 masks are being sold by scalpers for up to US $12 each, and we doctors have no chance of buying one,” he wrote on his social network before getting sick.
“I issue an energetic demand to our President and to Minsa [the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health] to control this,” he added.
Soza Chavarria, who usually posted messages in favor of the Ortega government and photos of himself with Sandinista propaganda, announced on his Facebook page on May 22 that he had been hospitalized “for the disease of the moment.”
“I ask for your prayers,” added the doctor, a native of Masaya, a city 28 kilometers (17 miles) southeast of Managua.
Before falling ill, he criticized the United States government, the Nicaraguan business leaders and the country’s media for questioning the Sandinista leadership’s management of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s regrettable how these stupid media outlets play with the life, health and dignity of the family. There should be a severe punishment for that,” he wrote on one post.
“Avoid crowds,” the Sandinista doctor recommended
Once he became ill, he began to issue calls to strengthen the preventive measures. He asked the government to send health inspectors to the bus stops to inspect the number of passengers in each vehicle, the use of masks, and the handwashing of the roving vendors.
He also counseled people “to avoid going out on the street as much as possible, avoid crowds.” This was contrary to the guidance issued by the government.
“If we do this [stay home and avoid crowds] we’ll be successful and we’ll have succeeded in containing this illness,” he pointed out.
When he entered the critical phase, he posted that COVID-19 is “a monster that destroys you rapidly or step by step, but the saddest thing it does is that it causes you to die alone, and that’s painful.”
The Nicaraguan Society of Pediatricians confirmed his death in a note of condolence that it made public on its Facebook page.
Managua Dioceses warns: the doctors are unprotected
The Justice and Peace Commission of the Managua Archdiocese stated on June 30 that Nicaraguan doctors are facing the Coronavirus pandemic without the “necessary” protective equipment.
The statement was issued amid the controversy for the firing of more than 15 doctors who had asked the authorities for protection against the COVID-19 pandemic. The doctors had also joined in a call to the population to voluntarily protect themselves from the novel Coronavirus, given the lack of government measures.
According to the diocese, the doctors and other health workers “risk themselves every day without being duly provided with the protective equipment needed for their struggle against this fatal pandemic, until they even die serving their compatriots.”
The denunciation of the religious leaders had already been made by more than 30 local and national medical associations in Nicaragua on two separate but similar disclosures in April and May. The denunciations were signed by over 700 health professionals, among them the doctors who were fired from the public hospitals.
Several of the fired doctors have pointed out that protective equipment donated by the Pan-American Health Organization, as well as by different governments, didn’t arrive at the state hospitals until the middle of June. They have also cast doubt on the veracity of the official data regarding COVID-19.
“All over the world, [health care workers] are applauded for their sacrifice and dedication, while, sadly, in our country they’re fired and deprived of their rights, for informing the truth and requesting the needed protection,” the Catholic delegation stressed.
“As a Church, we feel and we experience this great tragedy with our people: dozens of coffins circulating through our cities; the “express” burials in the middle of the night; the ambulance sirens that break the silence at all hours; the pain of not having been able to render our final loving homage to our dear ones who have parted from us without saying goodbye. We can say that we’re living through the hour of our Lord’s weeping,” the cleric added.