Health minister in Chile quits amid criticism

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera accepted on Saturday the resignation of Health Minister Jaime Manalich amid criticism from civil organizations and opposition figures for his management of the novel coronavirus pandemic in the country.

The president said that “Dr. Jaime Manalich gave all his effort and put off all his legitimate personal interests to concentrate all his time and energy to give the best of himself in the difficult and noble task of protecting our lives and our health.”

Manalich told reporters, “This new stage of the fight against the coronavirus requires new leadership that calls more people to dialogue, that brings freshness to the conversation, and in that sense, I do not doubt for a second my republican duty to step aside, an issue that the president has taken well.”

The former minister faced criticism of his management of the health crisis, both for successive change in strategies for counting cases and deaths as well as for calling for the development of a “new normal” though the country was still registering a high number of cases.

The new minister, doctor and surgeon Enrique Paris, revealed his intention to “call for dialogue and collaboration from the entire health field to meet and work together.”

“A new stage is opening in which we must recognize opinions that support the current policy and those that differ to get the best of Chile, the best of the country, the best of health officials out of that dialogue,” said Paris.

The new minister has served as part of the COVID-19 Social Roundtable, as president of the nation’s Medical College (2011-2017), and also as an advisor to the Health Ministry under previous governments.

Chilean authorities reported on Saturday that the country has registered 167,355 cases of COVID-19 and 3,101 deaths.

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