With all the issues our country is facing right now, the government has focused on suppressing press freedom. One of the largest and longest-running television network has been shut down because the President has taken a dislike to them.
The government has also been arresting citizens expressing dissent or criticizing the government. No laws have been violated and no warrants of arrest have been produced, but citizens have been forcefully taken and jailed indefinitely.
All of this despite the epidemic. The numbers of positive patients have been increasing and only 0.1% of the population has been tested. The country is running low on testing kits, reagents, PPEs, disinfectants, and other materials. The President made a loan of hundreds of billions of pesos for this, but we have yet to see what he has done with the money. Everything that we have been using are donations from different people and organizations. I fear that this is taking a toll on those who have been donating and donations will decrease.
Barangays have been forced to take the responsibility of feeding all their constituent families without much additional budget from the national government. This is also true for mayor’s.
Citizens have also been arrested for holding “mass gatherings” and giving aid to people in need. Healthcare workers going to hospitals have been stopped at checkpoints, fined, and thrown acid on them. The government has done nothing about this.
However, higher government officials under the protection of the president have been having mass gatherings for parties and speeches but they’re barely given a slap on the hand. Their supporters have been harassing people online who have asked why they weren’t fined when others have been.
Selective justice is happening, which is injustice.
With all these events, a national organization composed of medical students posted a statement about the current status of the country and its suppression of the press. Some healthcare workers then commented that medical students should stay out of this and instead go back to studying and reading books. We should not be concerned of that, they said. We should support the president and the government because they are doing the best the can. That we shouldn’t make health political
Health is, and has always been, political.
For a fact, health is a right. That is the number one thing taught in medical school. Currently, the country treats healthcare as a privilege, with only the rich getting proper healthcare because they can afford them. If a patient is not one of them, then best of luck to them. They are relegated to old hospitals, overworked healthcare workers with too many patients assigned to them, limited space, scarce resources, malfunctioning equipment, and overall bad conditions. But what can they do? This is all they can afford. Most don’t even go to a hospital before it’s too late because they have to work to provide for themselves and their families. If they don’t work, they will starve and die.
But I digress. Health is political because it is affected by what is happening in the government and in society. The budget is from the government. How hospitals are run is influenced by how society is run. There are social determinants of health that state that various factors will affect health. These are few of the first things taught in medical schools.
We even have rotations in the community and in barangay health centers so we really see health at the grassroots level. We see how people are affected and, in turn, how their health is affected. Wee see the injustices done and how crafty the Filipino are to do the best with what they can.
I am mad at people who say health is apolitical. It is not. It can be seen in plain sight but they choose to turn their eyes away. If the government does not have its priorities straight, the healthcare system will surely be affected.
People have forgotten the teachings of their Family Medicine and Community rotations. They did not take things to heart and just treated them as another easy rotation to get some rest and be done with. People think medical school is all about studying to pass the boards and to finally become rich doctors. That is not the point. Being a doctor means touching the lives of every patient you encounter and give them the care they deserve. You may not always get to treat this, but you can give them solace and making their quality of life better. What use are your prescriptions if your patient can’t afford to buy them? What use is it to treat a patient then send them back to the place where they got sick in the first place?
As doctors and doctors-to-be, it is our duty to fight for our patients’ right to health. It is our job to give them a better healthcare than what we currently have. It is important to take into consideration all their social determinants to holistically care for them. This includes fighting for what is right. If an important aspect of the society is suppressed, we could be next. Healthcare would be seriously comprised to make way for what the ruling class wants.
Being apolitical is siding with the oppressor. As a doctor, you should never be in favor of oppressing the very people you swore to treat and protect.