Coronavirus in Chile

Izkia Siches: The Face of the Chilean Fight Against Covid-19

SANTIAGO – The Medical College has recently criticized the government for its inaction in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The president of the organization, Izkia Siches, has been especially outspoken in this regard. Chile Today takes a look at her background.

In the past couple of weeks, doctor Izkia Siches, the president of the Medical College, has condemned Minister of Health Jaime Mañalich and the measures the government has taken against the coronavirus pandemic. She continuously says that in order to halt the spread of the virus it is necessary to declare a  mandatory quarantine in the Metropolitan Region.

On Sunday, Mar. 21, Siches was invited to join the president in a special series of meetings where they would confront the coronavirus pandemic together. The meetings are to take place every two weeks, and they will discuss further measures to help put the brakes on the disease’s rapid expansion. After the initial meeting, she said, “I will forget all previous controversies, we must work with the government.”

Who is this doctor who has suddenly vaulted to prominence?

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The Lifelong Dream of Being a Doctor

Siches was born in 1986 in the city of Arica. She was the youngest daughter of an accountant and medical technician, and, according to them, she always wanted to be a doctor. When she was three years old, the family moved to the Maipú commune in Santiago, so her mother could be closer to work.

In Santiago, she studied at the Bernardo O’Higgins Institute of Maipú, which worried her because she felt that the school wasn’t preparing her enough for the college entrance exam. As a result, she spent her afternoons at Pedro de Valdivia College Preparation. Her hard work paid off in 2003 when she was admitted to study medicine at Universidad de Chile.

Owing to her parents’ leftist upbringing, Siches joined the Juventud Comunista (the Communist party youth program) in college. She later became a council member of the Universidad de Chile Student Federation.

In 2008, she was elected president of the Medical Student Center and took charge of the Campus Clinic. During this time, she helped create a medical journal which didn’t last long but helped her create a team with whom she works with to this day.

When Siches embarked on her specialty in infectious diseases, she noticed that having political colors might hurt her career. She dropped out of the Juventud Comunista and became a champion of both sides of the political aisle, receiving praise from right- and left- wing politicians.

Career in Medicine

After obtaining a master’s degree in public health, Siches was hired to work in the San Juan de Dios Hospital in Santiago. She currently works there along with her older sister.

In 2017, she was chosen to be the president of the Medical College (the doctors syndicate which oversees the ethical practice of medicine in Chile), Siches has since pushed for reforms and has supported a declaration that healthcare is a right. She also made headlines when she attended Andrés Chadwick’s Constitutional Accusation while wearing eye protection as a sign of protest against police use of anti-riot shells.

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