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The Social Responsibility of Health Workers
Submitted by Marcelo Murillo on July 23, 2002 - 12:00am.
Words cannot express the sorrow and grief felt over the death of a young person. Even more so when the cause of death was avoidable. Unfortunately, this kind of death is growing rapidly all over the world. At this point in time, about 6 billion people live on the Earth; among these several millions in poor conditions, with health standards below human dignity. Therefore, it is absolutely vital to address this issue, seeking the correct measures to curb this tragic trend, since it would be impossible to eradicate it completely.
Amongst the main causes of death in young people, it is clear that violence surpasses all else, with cardiovascular pathologies taking second place. In both cases, social tension - itself subject to prevailing socio economic conditions- undoubtedly plays a central role.
However, possible solutions that could be set forward, mostly lie in the hands of a few decision makers, usually of the political arena, and quite far removed from the common citizen. These hands and their owners are -and will be- responsible for acting swiftly and correctly according to the needs of the people.
Currently, many societies in the world are facing a severe dilemma. In ideal conditions, the possibility of falling ill should be low, whereas the possibility of being cured should be high. Nevertheless, vast areas of our planet live in the extreme opposite situation: they live under circumstances where the possibility of falling ill is high and the possibilities of being cured are low, mainly due to the failure and impoverishment of health systems.
Once we become aware of this deadly grip, it is imperative to reverse the situation as soon as possible, taking into count that at any given time thousands of lives are being lost, leaving behind them tears, anguish and anxiety for their families and friends.
The main question is, then, how to diminish the first possibility, and enhance the second?
Although both, as we have said, depend on decision makers, a central issue is the education of the population. It is a well-established fact that education is the first-and probably most powerful- tool for defending health.
Who should give that knowledge, vital for population? Those who possess it within their own intellectual baggage. Specifically: health workers. Being one of them, I am absolutely convinced that a doctor's first role -besides his professional responsibility- is to teach, to be an advocate of the poorest, and producer of new ideas and alternatives, in all kind of fields focusing on mankind and health and thus, to medicine.
Popular education, through small groups in hospitals, schools, town-halls, could mean the difference between health and disease for thousands of men, women, boys, girls and teenagers, who - for different reasons - never achieved that knowledge.
But, what about the other part of the deadly grip: the possibility to be healed? There is no doubt that everything in our power must be done to seek a health system which functions correctly.
Once again, health worker have the necessary qualifications to monitor and assess the development of action taken by decision maker, knowing in advance the impact different measures will have on their population in the future.
Speaking simply and clearly: Teaching preventive medicine in small groups, or through the media, TV, newspapers, whilst permanently monitoring the actions of the government, could curb the tragic trend gripping the lives of millions today.
This letter is intended to reflect my personal opinion and suggestions in this direction.
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