Union health workers say 200,000 cancer tests await review

Union members display a banner that says that the delays in testing samples of suspected cervical cancer are putting women at risk of death.

Amid the celebratory atmosphere of the International Day of the Woman, public health workers issued a chilling report: That there are 200,000 cancer tests awaiting analysis and that the wait for women with suspected cervical cancer might be as much as a year.

The workers are members of the Unión Nacional de Empleados de la Caja y la Seguridad Social. They put on a demonstration Thursday. In an accompanying press release the union said that the situation was nothing new and has been going on for five years without a resolution.

The union is known for pointing out deficiencies in the health
services run by the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social. This protest targeted the Centro Nacional de Citologías where the law work is supposed to be done. The union said that 200,000 samples are in plastic bags thrown on the floor where they are contaminated by fungus that impede the analysis, according to Martha Rodríguez, the union’s secretary general.

In the event that the samples spoiled, a woman must submit to another exam and the wait again will be lengthy, and the usual wait is a year, she said.

The union leader said that the Caja should hire newly graduated cytogists and reactivate the center which has been unoccupied for three years. The union called on public agencies to intervene to resolve the problem.

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