Brazil’s second health minister resigns within a month of joining, says President in denial

On Friday, Brazilian health minister Nelson Teich resigned within a month of joining. Though Teich did not formally reveal the reason for his stepping down but openly criticized president President Jair Bolsonaro’s approach towards combatting the Covid-19 outbreak. Dr. Teich expressed shock over Bolsonaro’s orders of ending social distancing and allowing reopening of gyms and beauty parlors.

The New York Times, quoted Dr. Teich, saying, “Life is made up of choices, and today I chose to leave. I didn’t accept the job for the position itself. I accepted it because I thought I could help the country and its people.” He also expressed his disappointment towards the president, who he felt was living in denial.

Dr. Teich, an oncologist and healthcare entrepreneur, was the second health minister to step down, after his predecessor, Nelson Mandetta, was fired last month by the Brazilian president for criticizing Bolsonaro’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Teich also warned the country of hike in corona positive cases in the coming weeks. He said, “We are expecting more cases now that fewer people are following isolation measures and the health care system isn’t prepared for that.

“According to certain sources, the key reason behind Teich’s quitting the health ministry’s office was the Brazilian president’s pressure to including anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, in the list of proposed medicines to be used officially to treat the coronavirus patients. Whereas, being well-aware of the risks involved in prescribing the medicine, Teich opposed this decision.

On Thursday, while holding a video conference with the country’s business leaders, Bolsonaro said, “I was elected to make decisions. And the decision about chloroquine goes through me.” He added that his decision to lift state orders on isolation and social distancing should be taken as the last word.

Alessandro Molon, the Brazilian Socialist Party leader also criticized the Brazilian president for playing down the corona pandemic’s dangers, which he said worsened the country’s health crisis. Molon also raised the call for the president’s impeachment. In a statement, he said, “Bolsonaro does not want a technical minister, he wants someone who agrees with his ideological insanity, like ending social distancing and using chloroquine.”

Many medical experts include the US Food and drug officials, advised against the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus patients, citing its side effects including heart problems.

As of today, Brazil is the sixth worst-hit country in terms of the number of coronavirus cases, with 220,291 reported cases of infection and 14,962 deaths.

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