Ortega Replaces Health Minister amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Carolina Davila, recently replaced Minister of Health, together with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega during a videoconference with the Central American Integration System.

Fifteen days after the first confirmed case of Covid-19 was reported in Nicaragua, the regime has named a new Minister of Health. Carolina Davila, the former Minister, had been in her post for only eight months.

By Yader Luna  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Dr. Carolina Davila Murillo was dismissed as the head of the Ministry of Health and named an advisor, amid the health crisis caused by the Coronavirus and a mere 15 days since the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in Nicaragua.

As of April 1, the new Health Minister is Dr. Martha Reyes Alvarez who previously occupied the position of Director of Health Security.

Davila, who was named Health Minister on July 25, 2019, replaced Sonia Castro, who had been sanctioned by the US Treasury Department. Now, according to the presidential agreement, she will occupy the post of presidential advisor for matters of Managua’s Local System for Integral Health Attention (Silais-Managua).

Before becoming Minister, Davila had served since 2017 as Assistant Health Minister for matters of these same “Silais”. She’s also the wife of a current Assistant Health Minister Enrique Beteta, also a national leader of the Sandinista Medical Movement.

Declarations to the independent media were abruptly cancelled

Last March 26, the deposed Minister abruptly cancelled an interview scheduled on Channel 10 of Nicaraguan television to speak about the Coronavirus pandemic.  Channel 10 is the only independent media outlet where the health authorities have occasionally offered declarations.

Davila offered no explanation for the cancellation, simply failed to appear at what would have been her first public interview. Instead, she sent a psychiatrist who was unable to explain the strategies that the Health Ministry is implementing to avoid the spread of the virus in the country.  In recent days, he had been the object of debate and mockery on social media, after he gave erroneous statistics about Covid-19.

The new Minister of Health

Dr. Martha Reyes Alvarez, Nicaragua’s new Minister of Health. Photo: Presidency

Dr. Martha Reyes Alvarez, now Minister of Health, was previously director of Minsa’s Health Security branch.  She’s also served as director of Disease Prevention, head of the National Immunization Program, director of Applied Epidemiology and was a leader in the National Health Workers’ Front, a labor organization linked to the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN).

At the beginning of this week, Reyes was involved in an incident involving a report from Cuba’s Public Health Ministry, which stated last Friday that one of the 39 new cases of the Coronavirus in Cuba had come there from Nicaragua.

“We’re confident about our vigilance and our diagnostic capacity. [Contagion in Nicaragua] couldn’t have occurred, because she travelled on March 16, and our first case occurred on the 18th. Cuba needs to take another look and confirm.  They’re reviewing that aspect. Our cases are all imported,” Dr. Reyes stated on Monday in an interview broadcast over Channel 10.

On the very morning of April 1st, Dr. Reyes appeared on that channel, but wasn’t introduced as the new Minister of Health. It’s not known whether she told the station or not about her recent promotion.

The changes in the Health Ministry are happening at a time when there’s a world health crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The government continues insisting that in Nicaragua there’s been no community spread of the virus up until now.  According the official data from the Health Ministry, five cases of the virus have been confirmed: one person has died, one has been released from the hospital, three people remain in the hospital and 12 cases are in “careful and responsible follow-up”.

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