Tuesday, September 28

Sick in empty Spain … and full

My lifelong friend, Rosamari, now in her seventies, with iron health so far, is ill. The first part of the emergency room – three weeks ago – referred to the evaluation of two specialists. The second, a few days later, too. As they have not seen it yet, there is no diagnosis and therefore no curative treatment. While the long-awaited appointments arrive, he has been prescribed ibuprofen to relieve severe pain. And there my friend is taking a daily anti-inflammatory drug – which does not cure – while public health can treat her as it should be.

The small stories often lead us to the big and huge shortcomings. Rosamari resides in a town in Huesca, the same town where she was born. In the tough Monegros. He landed there of his own free will after carving out a profession and a solid background in London, where he lived for several years. His town does not have a medical clinic. At the head of the game, a doctor visits twice a week for a couple of hours. For emergencies and procedures you have to go to Grañen -23 kms- or in your case, to Huesca capital -almost 32 in another direction-. In Grañen, as in so many towns in Spain, the toilets are multiplying. No sick or vacation leave is covered. The pandemic has changed protocols. And altogether there is too much slowing bureaucracy and an endemic lack of resources. There is no specialist appointment without a flyer, the flyers continue their journey, and the consultations continue without arriving. Despite the goodwill of the professionals.

If there is an emptied Spain, it is Aragon – outside the city of Zaragoza – and if the community can speak of desert areas, one of the most prominent is the region of Los Monegros. They are almost 3,000 km² of surface to house only 20,000 people, distributed in minimal population nuclei. The same rented more – as some luminaries have told him and more than a thousand and a hundred will think – to group the neighbors all together in an urbanization of the capital. How does it occur to him to live in his town and without a car (asking for favors). Without the vultures that cross the sky, without the stones that take shape, without that clean air, live.

I read that in the province of Teruel, in Utrillas, they have done a relay race running to ask for doctors. It takes a lot of vocation to work in these conditions. A relay race! And a good part of the people passed from the vindication.

The shortcomings of public health in more or less emptied Spain are assumed as an inevitable evil, almost forced to dare to reside where taking care of health causes more expense. Everything, even health and life, is governed by profitability. How has this destruction been allowed? What have we allowed ourselves to do with Public Health? The serious thing is that, at the other extreme, in full Spain, neglect comes from having the increasingly weakened health services saturated in multiple places. Every complaint that is exposed in public receives a barrage of similar cases. And the published news spreads in a trail that hardly causes any impact. “Whoever can have private insurance,” they say. And they assume it as normal.

It is like the PP stealing by the handful wherever there is a box with public funds where to do it, if you allow me to do so.

The coronavirus pandemic has not provided any lesson about the vital importance of Public Health. Many chronically ill patients suffered, diagnoses slowed down. A fatal amalgam that has conditioned the development of serious ailments such as the one that this Friday has finally led to Olatz Vazquez, the Basque journalist who “cried photographs” to explain her drama and who has died at only 27 years of age.

Without mercy, without logic, cuts have continued in the most predatory communities. Madrid in the lead abolishes taxes on slot machines, and forgives almost a billion euros to 19,000 taxpayers who have a net worth of 10 million per head. Taxes pay for public services, they pay for health, but ultra-liberal policies and excessively impudent prefer to leave the money collected in some pockets.

Celia Blanco, Latanace, is a journalist who moved to live in Almería when she was fired in a readjustment of Cadena SER. So far he has received a letter from the Community of Madrid explaining how lucky they have been because his beloved Tere died last year in Madrid, and the taxes that have been saved with it.

It is hard to believe that a society has reached such a degree of conscience anesthesia and dehumanization to accept that it is more important to save on estate taxes than to allocate resources to health care. A society that resigns itself to delays in its care and consents that doctors and health personnel in general are in so many cases underpaid and overloaded with work. It should be noted that when, during the harshness of the pandemic, they have complained, they have done so about their limitations to fulfill their mission with patients, never about salary.

And still more. Spain also accepted the brutal triage of the elderly in the pandemic. More than triage in some cases, with a terrifying result of suffering and death. Giving so little value to human life as to reward those responsible for the disaster with a number of votes close to an absolute majority so that they continue to perpetrate their misdeeds. The soulless who have caused an unbearable emotional burden to the elderly who are sidelined by unproductive should lack land to run and leave.

My friend Rosamari begins to experience that there is something in the regulations and bureaucracies that goes beyond people’s pain: the lack of resources. Chosen by guidelines that do not prioritize the fundamentals. Most of us go behind. Hopefully she will be cured soon and she will go back up the mountains, looking at the sky, as she likes to do. Perhaps at some point the majority of society understands that the first thing is … life.


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