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Midwives urge reconsideration of planned health reform

midwives strike

A planned reform in Congress would reduce professional aspects of midwives. A professional told Chile Today that the reform will increase the risk of unwanted pregnancies. Meanwhile, a vote was postponed to give lawmakers time to hear more voices.

The Midwife College went on a warning strike on Aug. 19 to protest healthcare reforms under discussion in Congress that would reduce the profession’s scope to “non-pathological” issues.

Midwife and sexual health influencer Rocío Klenner, publicly known as “Lamatronadelpueblo” (the People’s Midwife) told Chile Today that “we have been working for years in favor of sexual and reproductive health, and I feel like these decisions will have direct consequences on the sexual lives of many women and men in our country.”

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The bill was introduced three years ago but discussions started only now. It would require doctors or nurses to handle tasks midwives carry out currently. Among these are aspects of sexual, reproductive and neonatal health treatments; initial handling of gynecological emergencies, reproductive loss and menopause problems; counselling and diagnosing, and recommending birth control measures.

Klenner said midwives in the public system are allowed to provide contraceptives for free. Also, most public primary care centers lack gynecologists, “so us not being allowed to prescribe birth control will [likely increase the number of pregnancies], because many women will not have access to their birth control method.

The president of the Midwives College, Anita Román, said in a statement that the reform would reduce the profession’s medical role by 60 to 70 percent. She added that nurses are not trained to decide on birth control and would face a substantial workload increase if the reform passed.

Consequently, waiting lists for medical care would increase.

The congressional vote on the reform was postponed to Aug. 30 from Aug. 19 because of the strike.

Miguel Crispi, the head of Congress’ medical committee, promised to meet with medical associations to further discuss the reform.

But the reform would not only affect the midwife profession, as groups such as the Medical Technology College have also raised criticism and even called for a national strike on Aug. 23.

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