Thoughts on health and medicine
While the government is conceding us the freedom to work, consume and go for walks (so-called Phase 2) – but not to demonstrate – the fact that doctors in training are declaring themselves to be in permanent mobilization seems like a good sign to us. As well as the fact that the situation that generated in hospitals in the face of Covid-19 is being explicitly linked to the cuts (37 billion euros in the last ten years alone) and to processes of privatization of health care. If there is a lesson to be learned from the mass experience we have lived through and are still living, it is that the defence of individual and collective health cannot be delegated and that it is urgent to open up spaces of discussion and initiative in various territories, spaces that can unite health workers with the rest of society. Not only because “starting again” as if nothing had happened is the most senseless thing one could do; but also because in the absence of resistance the enormous public debt that the government is creating with loans to the banks and big companies will involve more cuts and a more ferocious privatization. «Health is not for sale» can only be an invitation to struggle, therefore, certainly not a statement: in a world where everything is profit, health is on sale, and how!
Let’s start with a passage from your callout then:
«We are asking for the centrality of medicine in the territory be recognized, a reality that takes on the care of the person in their totality and globality. We demand that future general practitioners be guaranteed quality training, where the importance of a global and proactive management of patients is accentuated».
This means not only having the instruments to deal with diseases but also the will to prevent them. Can «medicine in the territory» that «takes on the cure of the person in their totality and globality» do without denouncing the environmental causes of diseases? The air we breathe, the food we eat, working conditions, means of transport are the very bases of a territory. Do pollution, the manufacture of food, accidents at work have anything to do with medicine or don’t they? That the medical art requires competence and training is certain; that its extreme specialization tends to make [doctors] perfectly incompetent in what is human and social is just as certain.
Precisely this human and social competence is what is missing, and we must build this together. After denouncing cuts and privatizations, do we want to say something about the structural causes leading to millions of people falling ill? Do we want to say that the very zoonotic diseases such as Covid-19 – now 70% of new infections – are caused by deforestation, intensive animal farming, industrial agriculture and disproportionate urbanization? If we can suggest examples to follow, which go well beyond specific professional fields, these are certainly not the great barons of medicine (who have always kept silent about the various health counter-reforms), but the “barefoot doctors” who, along with the workers, denounced the danger of asbestos or along with city and country dwellers the impact of various petrochemical toxicities. Not by chance these figures came forth in the years when people discussed and struggled around everything that concerned society, i.e. they took care of the cure of «the person in his/her totality and entirety». In this respect not only do we hope that mobilizations will resume and continue, but also that they intertwine. We have already seen only too well that “illness” produces isolation.
Text handed out on 29th May in Trento, during an initiative organized there and in twenty-one other cities by “doctors in training in permanent mobilization”
Translated by Act for freedom now!