Mayors in France have banned people from falling ill in a bid to draw attention to the shortage of local doctors.
Nine mayors in Sarthe, a rural area west of Paris, signed a symbolic decree forbidding people from seeking medical care if they are sick or injured.
The decree is intended to warn the government about the difficulties in accessing healthcare in the area – it does not have any effect in law.
Dominique Dhumeaux, president of the association of rural mayors of Sarthe, urged the government to “tackle the problem head on”.
He told the BBC: “We want to alert the public authorities to the lack of doctors – it is the survival of our territory that is at stake.”
A shortage of beds, a lack of staff, and recently closed facilities were some of the factors that led the mayors to sign the “strong but symbolic act.”
The four-article decree is written in an ironic tone, and states that it is prohibited “to be born with health problems in the area”.
It also suggests that if one wishes to “access efficient health services” they should move to Paris.
Mr Dhumeaux urged other mayors in the area to sign the decree as he said patients were at risk due to the distance they must travel to get to a hospital.
Of the 560,000 people who live in the area, 70,000 of them do not have access, he said.
Protests about the French healthcare system have been ongoing over the past year, as doctors joined with teachers and lawyers to demonstrate their discontent with the government.
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