Page last updated at 02:11 GMT, Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Chile HIV error minister resigns


Chile's health minister has resigned after a hospital failed to tell dozens of patients they had tested positive for HIV, which can lead to Aids.

Maria Soledad Barria said she did not want to be an obstacle to government efforts to improve the health service.

Before resigning, Ms Barria dismissed several members of staff at the hospital in Iquique, northern Chile.

Ms Barria, who was appointed to the post in 2006, is said to be a close friend of President Michelle Bachelet.

A government spokesman said that Ms Bachelet had accepted Ms Barria's resignation and appointed the Deputy Health Minister, Jeanette Vega, in her place.

Ms Barria told reporters she was resigning "so that we can set aside political accusations that seek to sling mud at a system which is good".

"Our nation's institutions cannot be a target for those who seek to make political capital and want to force a government defeat," she said.

The supervising nurse, the head of the blood bank and the head of medicine at the hospital have all been forced to resign following the HIV scandal, pending an investigation into possible negligence.

Ms Bachelet's ruling leftist coalition has faced growing public opposition in recent months and lost ground to right wing parties in local elections held last weekend.

Chilean minister voted out of job
17 Apr 08 |  Americas
Country profile: Chile
22 Oct 08 |  Country profiles

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