Rio de Janeiro eager to privatize field hospitals

The Rio de Janeiro state government announced it might privatize local field hospitals
Maracanã Field Hospital, in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Rogério Santana/RJ

The Rio de Janeiro state government announced it might privatize local field hospitals. The decision refers to the future administration of the six hospitals under construction in the state. The Maracanã field hospital ⁠— the only one currently functioning in Rio — will continue to be the government’s responsibility. The initial plan was to create at least 1,800 new units in field hospitals by late-April, but only Maracanã’s 400 hospital beds are currently available.

The decision came after an investigation shed light on an alleged corruption scheme involving Governor Wilson Witzel’s administration. Earlier this month, his health secretary was dismissed after his right-hand man, Deputy Health Secretary Gabriell Neves, was arrested alongside five other suspects in relation to the purchase of 1,000 overpriced ventilators. 

A new police operation is currently investigating corruption schemes in the construction of field hospitals in Rio. This week, it seized BRL 2 million from a group that allegedly defrauded government contracts to build emergency healthcare units. Following the seizure, Mr. Witzel himself became the target of the investigations. On May 26, the Federal Police carried out a search and seizure operation at the Laranjeiras Palace — the governor’s official residence. 

The government indicated it would work with the state’s attorney general, Marcelo Lopes, to develop an “efficient” privatization plan.

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