El Salvador Inaugurates New Women’s Hospital Abandoned by Past Government

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On Saturday, May 10, El Salvador celebrated Mother’s Day with the unveiling of the new, state of the art National Women’s Hospital. The public hospital replaces the old National Maternity Hospital, which languished in ruins following the 2001 earthquake as funds for its reconstruction were embezzled under the previous right-wing administration.

“My government came to break with those vices of the past, that lack of political will that left the needs of the most vulnerable sectors unresolved,” said outgoing President Mauricio Funes at Saturday’s ceremony, “So we had to start from scratch. We got to work and dedicated financial and human resources to make this hospital a reality.” Over the course of his five-year term with the leftist Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) party, the Funes administration has overseen the greatest investment in public healthcare infrastructure and equipment in the nation’s history.

After the 2001 earthquake left the previous Maternity Hospital with 30% of its infrastructure unusable, El Salvador was granted a $30 million international loan to repair the damage. $29 million of those funds disappeared, and Guillermo Maza Brizuela, who served as Minister of Health under former president Tony Saca (2004-2009), currently faces criminal charges for their misappropriation.

The new hospital is nearly twice the size of the previous building, with sophisticated new digital mammogram equipment and X-ray machinery. It also boasts the public healthcare system’s first apparatus to measure bone density and an informatics system that allows patients’ clinical files to be managed online.  All services at the hospital are free of charge.  The unveiling was also presided over by the Minister of Health, Dr. María Isabel Rodríguez, and attended by women leaders from across El Salvador’s political and civil society sectors.

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