Raul FreitasPortugal





A lacking public health system is nothing new, or at least it shouldn’t be. We’ve been listening to the cry of health professionals for years, over the lack of staff and specialized equipment. Health care is a huge responsibility and I’m sure that governments would like nothing more than to pass the burden over to private hands. It’s the only reasonable explanation for the underfunding and dragging of the feet, when it comes to bettering the system.

Across the planet, corporations are buying up government held services that are essential to the public, without precedence. A very strange phenomenon, considering government usually cites unaffordability as the motive, yet corporations, (whose sole purpose is to make a profit), obviously see no problem in making money out of their new acquisitions. I remember when Ontario sold off Hydro and opened up the energy market to “healthy competition” in order to keep prices down. How did that work out? Even the supply of water has been privatized in many countries, with previously predicted disastrous results. Again, goods and services essential to life, in the hands of those who seek profit above all else. How could this ever be a positive thing? Does this sound dystopian? Yes!

In health care the mere mention of privatization makes people bristle, evoking memories of scenes from our friends south of the border and their plight with the private system. If you’re not at the mercy of a hospital, it’ll be the insurance company that will get you. Unfortunately though, the public system has put many through experiences that are beyond comprehension; A year waiting to see a specialist, months to score an appointment with your family doctor, if you have one, that is. In the late 90’s when we moved north, out of Toronto, seven years went by before we were finally provided with a family doctor. Here in Portugal, although there are signs of stress and the same governmental foot-dragging, having experienced both systems for many years, we come out way on top. It’s not a perfect system, but a rich nation such as Canada should be at least on par. Actually, no industrialized nation that provides public access health care should be lacking in services, there cannot be any credible excuse. There is always money for so many other initiatives. Health care should always be, among a few others, at the top of the list of priorities.

But it’s not just more doctors and nurses that will resolve the issue, as always, we, the people, can play a big part in the solution. People need to be better educated regarding illness, or the absence of serious illness. We’ve become so disassociated with common knowledge that we go running to an expert for just about everything we come across in life. No one remembers the knowledge handed down over the generations any more. There are a million “experts” on the internet, but none that you can trust like an old family member. The encyclopedia of common knowledge is quickly running out of volumes. In the case of illness, professionals have long urged people to be sure that an emergency actually exists before clogging up the hospitals. Probably the largest public contributor to the stress on the health system are the elderly. Here, if you sit in the emergency ward at the hospital for any period of time, 95% of the patients brought in while you wait, will be elderly. It makes sense, modern medicine has enabled people to live longer lives, but not necessarily healthier, so that segment of the population does require a lot of attention, putting even greater stress on the system. Governments have long known of this and have barely lifted as finger to address the need.

Even though there are important needs such as education and housing that require urgent attention, but don’t get it, if there’s no money for health care, then what are we working towards? Without your health, what do you have? The many who have suffered health issues know full well what’s most important in life. Those who haven’t, can imagine. It doesn’t take much to bring us down and disrupt everything we know as normal, yet governments keep us walking this tightrope, pushing us to the limit, a limit that is unquantified, so they keep pushing. And you know what? There’s no safety net below.
Fiquem bem,

Raul Freitas/MS

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