Enrique Soto, the doctor “of a thousand patients” who died of coronavirus

Recognized cardiologist and with a political career in the Broad Front and the medical unionism, Dr. Enrique Soto, who weeks ago contracted coronavirus, died this Tuesday at 65 years of age. The man designated by colleagues as “a doctor who accompanied thousands of patients” and by politicians as “a person who did not ask for anything in exchange for his delivery” was the promoter of the health reform implemented during the first government of Tabaré Vázquez (2005 -2010), embraced the fight against smoking and led the separation of Casmu from the Uruguayan Medical Union (SMU).

Although in the first instance, he consulted his mutual insurance company for an asthmatic condition, the routine swab determined two weeks ago that he was infected with coronavirus and his health condition deteriorated since the weekend. This Tuesday, first thing in the morning, the SMU group Fosalba announced that its former leader and head of Cardiology of Casmu died in Montevideo amid the escalation of infections in the capital.

Passionate about medicine and literature, during his career he was also president of the Uruguayan Society of Cardiology, headed the National Resource Fund and was vice president of the State Health Services Administration (ASSE) during the Beatriz Silva administration.

The former president of the SMU, Julio Trostchansky, a list partner of his colleague for 15 years, highlighted in dialogue with The Observer that Soto “I do not need to be part of the academic world to excel in the modern practice of cardiology” and affirmed that he was one of those professionals who “accompanied thousands of patients, for years, and was very loved.”

A fan of Nacional, in his curriculum also took place, both in the exercise of the profession and in his political activity, the fight against cigarettes.

Soto led the Tobacco Control Program and in 2016 was one of the main spokespersons for the Frente Amplio government to celebrate the international trial that the Uruguayan State won against Philipp Morris. He also promoted the implementation of a flat cigarette box to limit the distinction between brands and tax policies against the marketing of tobacco.

The tobacco company sued Uruguay in February 2010 for alleged damages derived from the regulations that Vázquez implemented as a way to combat tobacco consumption. Philip Morris alleged that Uruguay violated several points of the Bilateral Investment Treaty that the country has with Switzerland since 1998, but the ruling of the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) ratified the Uruguayan health policy and also indicated that the tobacco company must pay US $ 7 million for attorneys’ fees and costs.

In the medical field, Soto promoted the constant updating of knowledge and was in favor of the recertification of professionals, as a way to measure aptitudes in the face of advances in medicine. “I remember that in his offices he always had the latest medical cardiology articles with journals or reports on the specialty,” Trostchansky said.

Political life: the FA and Fosalba

In the Frente Amplio, Soto was a member of the Christian Democratic Party and in 1989, after that group broke up with the left coalition, he joined the Vertiente Artiguista, where he participated in the sector’s health commission and was a substitute senator.

“He contributed his experiences as a humanist doctor to the development of the Integrated Health System, one of the flagships of the progressive government. He never asked for anything in exchange for his delivery. I practice fasting rhetoric and teaching humanistic service ”, recalled the former Minister of Tourism of the Frente Amplio Héctor Lescano in a Facebook post.

While the socialist senator Daniel Olesker defined him as “a builder of the health reform”, both the Minister of Health, the lobbyist Daniel Salinas, and the national director of Health, the white Miguel Asqueta, also remembered Soto in their networks social.

He also had an outstanding participation in the union politics of doctors. “He was one of those leaders who combine union activity and a very prominent professional activity. He was one of those doctors who practiced the profession and this exercise allowed the problem to be transferred to the fields of medical representation and to propose solutions ”, Trostchansky recalled.

The current president of Casmu, Raúl Rodríguez, met Soto 30 years ago at the defunct Pasteur mutual society, where one was a cardiologist and the other an emergency doctor. Several years later, faces were seen again in Casmu and in union activity, representing different medical currents.

One of the moments they shared as directors was in 2009 when, in the midst of an institutional crisis, Casmu separated from the Medical Union.

Rodríguez recalled that in this and other instances, despite the differences, the cardiologist “acted very well as a mediator.” “We could disagree because we are in different positions but there was the possibility of reaching agreements to move things forward,” he said, recalling that the Fosalba reference was vice president of Casmu and he served as treasurer.

The Fosalba Group, the majority line in the current SMU leadership, said on Twitter that the cardiologist “was part of the history and the very essence of the group.” Meanwhile, in 2016 the union awarded him union and professional merit.

Before his death, the family called on those closest to them to avoid sending flower crowns. Instead, they asked that this money be destined for the popular pot of Huracán del Paso de la Arena *.

His son Marcos Soto, director of UCU Business School, said goodbye with a letter and an infinite hug.

* The funds are received in the Abitab account 114089.

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