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Peru doctors on hunger strike over pandemic work conditions

At least four doctors began a hunger strike Wednesday as a protest against the substandard working conditions that Peru's medical workers say they have faced in fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

The hunger strike in Peru's capital, Lima, is the latest action by health care workers asking the government to improve their work environment. Medical personnel have been protesting for a week just as a second wave of coronavirus cases is hitting the country.

“We are concerned about the abandonment of our doctors, the lack of good working conditions,” said Dr. Teodoro Quiñones, who joined in the hunger strike. “There is still a lack of oxygen. There is still a lack of medicines. The economic commitments that the government had offered have not been fulfilled, and nothing happens here.

Relatives pray next to the portrait of Pedro Martin Fernandez, a doctor who died from COVID-19, in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, January 19, 2021. The Peruvian Medical College reported that at least 11 doctors have died during the first days of 2021. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)

Quiñones, who is secretary general of the union that represents doctors who work in Peru’s public hospitals, will remain in a makeshift tent outside the Ministry of Labor and Ministry of Health throughout the strike. On Wednesday, he lay on some mattresses in the middle of the street and was hooked up to an IV with fluids.

Peru has tallied 1,073,214 coronavirus cases and 39,044 deaths related to COVID-19 as of Tuesday, according to data from the Ministry of Health.

Quiñones said any improvements in the working conditions of doctors will benefit the quality of care provided to patients. He said doctors are not demanding higher pay but only basic working conditions.

Javier Casana leaves flowers on the portrait of his uncle Jorge Luis Casana, 62, a doctor who died from COVID-19, in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, January 19, 2021. The Peruvian Medical College reported that at least 11 doctors have died during the first days of 2021. (AP PhotoRodrigo Abd)