The Paris headquarters of the French health ministry was sprayed with red paint by a group of activists and medical workers protesting the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The group also brought to the ministry’s step a large ribbon and medal with the words “prize of contempt” inscribed on it.
According to a statement released by the activist group calling itself “Attac,” years of defunding and neglect have left the French health care system ill-prepared for emergencies such as the coronavirus pandemic.
“The COVID-19 crisis only confirmed what everyone knew: years of politics of numbers have brought the hospital and its staff to the brink. However, despite the lack of beds, equipment and protective equipment, hospital staff showed extreme dedication at the height of the crisis to save as many lives as possible, sometimes even at the cost of their own,” read the statement on behalf of Attac and medical workers union Collectif Inter-Urgences.
The group went on to criticize the government’s inadequate compensation, saying that a figurative medal and a cash reward that comes with many strict criteria is not enough. They also lashed out at the use of tear gas against a peaceful health care rally in Paris earlier this week.
“Caregivers deserve more than medals and tear gas. Their demands are clear: immediate revaluation of their salaries, hiring of staff, reopening of beds, increase in allocated resources. With this action, Attac France and the CIU call to continue and amplify the mobilization to demand resources and personnel in a public hospital service accessible to all,” the statement read.
France’s response to the coronavirus pandemic fell in line with wealthy western neighbors where medical systems were pushed to the brink. As of Saturday, the country has a total of nearly 160,000 cases and nearly 30,000 fatalities.—AFP