A narrative of the event this Thursday, in Aracataca, presenting the Preventive and Predictive program of the Ministry of Health and Social Protection.
Aracataca, Magdalena, November 5, 2022. A yellow butterfly spread its wings to the rhythm of the music, brightening the prelude to the day of change that took place this Thursday in Aracataca.
It was still sunny, about 30 degrees in the shade, but that didn't stop Iris Rá, the artist in charge of representing Mauricio Babilonia's yellow butterfly dance.
That flutter that came and went across the stage was accompanied by the clapping of around four thousand attendees, who anxiously awaited the arrival of the president of the Republic, Gustavo Petro, to officially start the presentation of the Preventive and Predictive program, which will focus on preventing diseases in Colombia, an old debt in the country.
A few minutes later, after hearing the sound of the Black Hawk helicopters transporting him, the president, accompanied by the minister of health and social protection, Carolina Corcho, arrived on stage. Applauses and shouts sounded, and the attendees stood up, kicking off the event, while voice of the presenter was heard in the background, asking the attendees to silence their cell phones and try to stay seated.
The first to speak was the mayor of Aracataca, Luis Emilio Correa, who highlighted the need to continue strengthening the health sector, among other requests addressed directly to the president.
Then, the turn was for the governor of Magdalena, Carlos Caicedo, who also reported a series of health actions carried out in the province.
After Caicedo, the opportunity was for social leaders from the health sector to talk about the program, the needs and the challenges of Colombia in this matter, which are clearly recognized by this Government, and which they will obviously face.
The first to speak was Benerexa Márquez, an Arhuaca elder, who mentioned that the Government's commitment is challenging in developing the health of Colombia's indigenous communities. This will occur through strengthening "the ancient knowledge we have relied on to have health."
Subsequently, the floor was given to Francisco Castellanos, leader of the health sector and who manages the Patient Defense Organization, which is recognized in Colombia for ensuring the protection of the right to health in all territories and without distinction of class, color or social level. "Health must reach all the corners of the country as is already being considered by this government," Castellanos pointed out.
The turn came for the minister. The presenter announced Carolina Corcho, the applause rang out and the head of the ministry got up from the chair next to President Petro.
She took eleven steps to the main lectern. She thanked and greeted the main table and attendees, social organizations, health professionals, indigenous communities and other actors in the health sector, and began: "The symbol behind this preventive health program we are presenting in Aracataca is very important to understand."
She mentioned this, recalling the claims of the banana growers in 1928, which focused on a reform of medical services and the construction of latrines, basically public health, which showed that today–and for almost a hundred years–this claim has been the reality of Colombians.
As she continued with her remarks and, as if it were a Macondo story, where situations come out of nowhere or as if by magic, the sky opened up and torrents fell over this announcement, loaded with commitments for the well-being of Colombians.
The rain, although intense at times, did not make the attendees leave the place.
On the contrary, as it rained harder and the minister tempered her voice to reach the hearts of the attendees and those who watched the event through the official channels of the National Government, they remained attentive, aware of the change that was being announced. And that something good was happening in this town.
"This health system has to return to a prevention vocation," said Minister Corcho, making the national commitment clear. The storm grew stronger, showing how climate change (which impacts the social determinants of health) in just a few minutes, was also present on the day.
The minister paused briefly and those who were following the broadcast on official channels were able to realize that the sound of rain was purring in the background. They did not lose sight of her, who continued by naming the territories that began to shape the Preventive and Predictive program, whereby prevention will be prioritized throughout the health system: Magdalena, Antioquia, Bogotá, Pasto, Quindío, Valle, Cali, Boyacá, Medellín, Cundinamarca, Coyaima, Villavicencio, Manizales, Vaupés. This caused a mix of sound from the applause and the rain falling.
To end her intervention, which lasted at least nine minutes, Minister Corcho raised the importance of the medical mission, the challenges that lie ahead for the second stage of the program and the need for all the actors to focus on complying with a same direction: "For the rebirth of public health" in Colombia.
The turn came for President Petro, who presented an examination of health, the weaknesses of the system and the challenges that, as a country, must be faced.
Among his most emotional words, the president noted that this program will not look at people as a potential client of the health market, but as a person, without checking the patient's pocket or the many privileges they have.
"The person is not an object of business, but a subject of law", he stated before the people who attended the event and that, while the rain continued to rumble on the scene, they, as the main actors of our society, continued to pay attention to this presentation, which will be the roadmap for the nation in terms of prevention.
After a series of announcements and messages about the commodification of health, the president, after glancing at his water-logged notes, ended by calling on Colombians to turn to protect the system to that it becomes a system that generates life and not death and thus Colombia can be a world power of life.
So ended an Aracataca afternoon the first Thursday of November, which will mark the north of health in Colombia and the protection of life. A deluge of change for Colombian health fell in Aracataca.