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updated: 1/7/2013 9:31 AM

Spanish medical workers protest health privatization

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  • A demonstrator takes part in a National health workers march Monday during the first major demonstration of the year in Madrid. The demonstration was against government-imposed austerity measures and labor reforms in the public health care sector in Madrid. The word painted on her face reads 'Health.'

      A demonstrator takes part in a National health workers march Monday during the first major demonstration of the year in Madrid. The demonstration was against government-imposed austerity measures and labor reforms in the public health care sector in Madrid. The word painted on her face reads 'Health.'
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

MADRID -- Thousands of Spanish medical workers and residents are marching through downtown Madrid to protest against government budget cuts and plans to partly privatize their cherished national health service.

The demonstration is the latest of several, described as a "white tide" because of the color of the medical scrubs many protesters wear.

The protesters walked Monday behind a large banner saying, "Health care is not to be sold, it's to be defended."

Health care and education are currently administered by Spain's 17 semiautonomous regions rather than the central government. Madrid proposes selling off the management of six of 20 large public hospitals and 27 of 268 health centers.

The Spanish government argues the sell-offs and cuts are needed to secure health services during a deep recession.

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