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Thousands protest health privatization in Spain

MADRID (AP) -- Thousands of public health workers and other people are marching in Madrid to protest the regional government's plans to restructure and part-privatize the sector.

The Sunday march, described as a "white tide," comes a day before the region's health councilor will meet with a committee responsible for coordinating professional services and union representatives to try and agree how to achieve €533 million ($697 million) in savings.

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

Spain's regions are struggling with a combined debt of €145 billion ($190 billion) as the country's economy contracts into a double-dip recession triggered by a 2008 real estate crash.