Indeed, the situation was alarming when the alarm state was established. And then? Now it is chaotic and absolutely uncoordinated, the General Council of Nurses has said, because of the incessant contagion by coronavirus without protective measures. For its part, the General Council of Doctors will appear as an accusation against the Health Department in cases of contagion derived from the use of defective masks.
Can you imagine what would have happened to a private company, pharmaceutical or medical products or textile company and its managers if they had delivered such defective material with a serious risk of contagion that could put the lives of the health workers at risk? Fines, closure of the company, arrest of the managers… And do you know the consequences of this fact on the Administration?
Imagine a purchasing manager in a company that takes weeks to place an order that is key to the operation of the company – until March 17 the first official purchases were not made by the Health Department -, that orders it from a supplier without references (or well known by someone?), that obtains it from non-approved manufacturers, that does not check the quality of what is received so late and has to return it after customer complaints etc., would such an irresponsible person not be fired? And what happens in the Administration in an issue with fatal consequences?
But the arrogance and ineptitude are such that instead of relying on those who know, the companies that manufacture the equipment, or those that buy or import it, or their professional associations, or those that have in fact been exporting protective equipment to other countries until the first half of March, prefer to improvise rather than recognize the virtues of private companies, which “profit” from the disease. Perhaps they prefer mafiosi or cronies.
What negligent ignorance! To think that the poor Spanish Ministry of Health, today dismembered into three parts, can take care of the management and supply of health materials and equipment… Of course, the new cabinet does not know that the Ministry is an empty shell in a colossal building, which has lost over the years the great technical equipment that we have known. We hope that at least the lesson will be learned and that it will be considered not as a Mary in the ministerial restructurings, but as one of the keys of the government, in spite of the transfer of competences to the autonomous communities which has been the cause of serious problems in previous governments.
In one area the Administration has proven to be expert. First of all, it executes with much mastery and quickly seize, confiscate, prohibit, which reminds us of the famous Chavista “exprópiese”. Even if it then does not know what to do. The novice who studies economics – not those who get degrees by recommendation – know that the best formula for restoring supply and lowering prices is to favour freedom of production, which by increasing will bring down prices. Companies in the textile sector were eager to help. Even thousands of women in Spain have been making these masks by hand, which when there were none were not necessary for health and when they have appeared on the market they are essential to contain the pandemic. The autonomous communities, as soon as they cleared the possibility of buying them again, did so. The failure of the mask policy has been stentorian. Naturally, then came the price controls. The only thing missing are the ration books to remind us of times gone by.
It’s a good thing the right lost the election. Even if I had managed the pandemic without a hitch, the situation on the streets would have been revolutionary. It is worthwhile to distract ourselves with the videos of the street riots caused by the Ebola epidemic that resulted in the death of two infected missionaries who came to Spain to die and the death of the mascot Excalibur. What would have happened today with the tragedy of 20,000 official deaths or more than 50,000 real deaths from the coronavirus?
Eduardo Rodríguez Rovira
Honorary President of CEOMA (Spanish Confederation of Elderly Organizations)