Policies are to blame for the inability to confront the virus
25 March 2020 ‘HARAVGI’ newspaper
By Seviros Koulas – Member of the Central Secretariat of the United Democratic Youth Organisation (EDON) and Secretary of EDON Nicosia- Kyrenia District Organisation
The coronavirus epidemic has become part of our everyday life for us all, both on a personal as well collective level. The mass media daily, and rightly, devote all their time on covering the development surrounding the virus, the recording of incidents, analysis of the positive and negative scenarios of its spread and tackling, as well as its eventual overcoming. The death toll is a tragic part of what is happening, as well as the nightmarish problems that are developing in the health systems all over the world, especially in Europe, which is now the epicentre of the pandemic, according to the experts.
But what “escapes” the attention of mainstream journalism is the following question – why? Not because the virus has struck, but because we are unable as societies to absorb, and especially the health systems across the EU, its consequences. It really is heartbreaking when every media report covers how in Italy choices are having to be made as to who will enter an intensive care ward from those judged as having the best hope to live precisely because of the lack of beds. This reporting is incomplete as it doesn’t pose the underlying question – why is this so?
Apart from the EU’s provocative indifference (and/or incompetence) to provide help towards its member states to confront the pandemic, the most criminal of all is that the EU itself is responsible for the inability of health systems to cope. According to data released by the Left Party German MEP Martin Schirdewan, from 2011 to 2018 the European Commission asked its member states 63 times to reduce spending on health or/and to proceed to privatisations in this specific sector. Therefore, the shortages in equipment, consumables, medical and paramedical staff, the general situation of disintegration in many EU health systems, all bear the mark and signature of the European Union and the policies it is imposing.
In France, hospital doctors have been warning since mid-December of the huge shortages in the health system and the immediate risk of its collapse if funding is not increased. They subsequently proceeded to organise mass mobilizations, but of course before the outbreak of the coronavirus they were called “backward and lazy trade unionists” of the public sector. After the coronavirus broke out, French President Macron remembered that “we are at war. An invisible, inconceivable war” without of course ever mentioning the war that he and his political predecessors have waged against the country’s public health system.
“In Italy over the last ten years, governments have proceeded to cut € 37 billion (!) in the health sector resulting in the disappearance of 150,000 hospital beds and the reduction of hospital staff by 46,000.” This is what Carlo Ciato, epidemiologist and former governor of public health companies in Italy, revealed in an interview with “Avgi” newspaper.
In Britain anyone who follows the political news there will from time to time have noticed that the National Health System (NHS) has always been one of the key issues of confrontation for decades. Today the NHS is under incredible pressure not only because of Boris Johnson’s “experiment”, but mainly because of the attacks it has come under for a number of years with regards its budgets. The “New York Times” reports that “Britain has reduced its hospital beds by nearly 160,000 since the late 1980’s, so doctors began to reduce hospitalization and tried to reduce the need for inpatient care, within the framework of corresponding efforts across Europe.” Furthermore, according to the British daily newspaper “Independent”, “in the period 2011 – 2013 10.8 billion pounds have been cut from the British NHS”.
So in conclusion, policies may not be responsible for the virus, but they are responsible for the inability to confront it.
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