In a significant victory for President Gustavo Petro, Colombia's health reform has successfully cleared the House of Representatives and is now en route to the Senate. The reform, which aims to curtail the private sector's role, seeks to allow the state to directly remunerate care providers and medical professionals.
Indigenous Leader at the Helm
Sen. Martha Isabel Peralta, a Wayuu indigenous leader and specialist in environmental law, is set to preside over the ensuing discussions as the president of the Seventh Commission of the Senate. Peralta, who has been spearheading the Social and Alternative Indigenous Movement (MAIS) since 2015, was instrumental in the initial approval of the government's pension reform in Congress. She has extended her support to the health reform and has pledged to assure that the opposition will receive guarantees during the debate process. However, she has urged the opposition not to sabotage the discussions.
The Seventh Commission's Role
The Seventh Commission, comprising 14 senators, will thoroughly examine the 133 articles of the health reform bill. The commission plans to hold multiple hearings for dialogues with citizens and different sectors. Special attention will be given to specific aspects of the bill, such as the previously contested Article 42, which advocated for the meritocratic selection of public hospital managers but was discarded in the House. Furthermore, about 75 proposed articles recorded during the House debate will be reassessed.
Healthcare for All, Above Party Lines
Peralta underscores the need for a respectful and well-argued debate and appeals for the commitment to prioritize the demands of the citizenry over political affiliations. She also highlights the distinct health agendas of indigenous communities, which encompass indigenous EPS (Health Promoting Entities) and their own health systems. The government has been pressed to assure that the reform has substantial budgetary backing and financial stability. Peralta urges Colombians to trust that the government isn't seeking to damage the healthcare system but to enhance it.