Protestors earlier this afternoon. Image: Manuel de Almeida/ Lusa
Protestors earlier this afternoon. Image: Manuel de Almeida/ Lusa

Hundreds march in Lisbon to “save the SNS” 

State health service “is sick”, say organisers

At a point where children’s vaccinations for this year still haven’t been purchased; where various specialities are ‘rotating’ because of a chronic shortage of doctors and technical personnel, and where whole departments are evacuated to other hospitals, hundreds of people have taken to the streets of Lisbon today to rail against what they see as the ‘selling off’ of the country’s State Health Service (SNS).

With placards attesting to the service’s frailties, and those proclaiming “Health is a Right” and “Stop Selling the SNS”, the caravan of protestors wound its way from Largo Camões to the steps of parliament.

This was an event organised by the so-called Movimento +SNS (see below): those in the crowds a mixture of everyday citizens, health professionals and ‘sympathisers’, according to SIC Notícias.

Various people gave speeches from an open-topped truck. There were lots of slogans, drum beats and chants. Says SIC: “The Movement +SNS, with figures from various political backgrounds and several professional areas”, wanted the demonstration to be a “rallying cry” for the strengthening of the nation’s health service, access to which it says is “severely compromised”.

Movimento +SNS is made up of various well-known names in the field of health, including former director general of health Fernando George, as well as leading figures in the arts and culture. The movement has launched a manifesto with around 3,000 signatories who are calling for a ‘cure for the SNS’ which they say “is sick”. The manifesto, launched in April, begins with the phrase by António Arnault (the father of Portugal’s SNS health service): “The SNS is an inalienable moral heritage of our democracy”.

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