Paraguay’s president-elect cancels appointment of his future health minister

Asuncion, 21 July (EFE) — Paraguay’s President-elect Santiago Peña this Friday canceled the appointment of anesthesiologist Felipe González as his future Minister of Health and Welfare, who has been embroiled in controversy over claims to care for terminal patients that have caused discomfort in medical circles and patients’ families.

In a statement, Peña, who will become head of state on August 15, announced his decision without going into details.

“With a firmness and consistency that befits me from the leadership that I hold, I announce that Dr. Felipe GONZALEZ will not hold the position of Minister of Health, as announced in principle,” the note reads.

The future president added that “citizen empathy will be an important element in managing” his team.

This Friday, Peña expressed his concern to reporters in the department of Guaira about the statements of his appointed minister and indicated that one must be sensitive to terminal patients.

Gonzalez, whose appointment was announced on June 27, called on Thursday to “grow up as a society” and understand that there are situations in which medicine is “not miraculous.”

In this context, he mentioned the costs that an extension of treatment to the state may entail in “terminal cases that are no longer treatable with medical art”, and asked to be honest and not create false expectations for patients or their families.

In response, the Paraguayan Circle of Physicians, in a statement broadcast by local media, expressed “deep concern” at González’s statements and considered them “erroneous and far from the aims and principles proclaimed by the medical profession, and contrary to the principles of humanity and human dignity.”

The Association of Cancer Patients and Their Families (Apacfa) echoed the sentiment, noting that while they suggest that Gonzalez’s statements are “not malicious,” they still cause “great concern in the already fragile physical and mental health” of their colleagues and cancer patients.

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