OPINION

Public health crisis?

“Happy New Year and good health!» is both the most common and the most meaningful wish one can make at this time of year. But we undervalue the gift of health, appreciating it only when we lose it – when our loved ones struggle to hold onto it or when it is too late. Only then, humbled, do we start philosophizing, overlooking the trivialities and petty malices of everyday life, tolerating our enemies and seeking out our friends more than ever before. The National Health System (ESY), whose purpose is to safeguard public health, has been betrayed – chiefly by the system itself. It has become little more than a forum for political confrontations carried forth in a sickly climate in which all well-intentioned efforts are doomed to failure. Ministers have consigned to the garbage can whatever their predecessors have achieved, plans and commitments remain shelved, and never-ending strikes are a pain for hospital patients and others. Meanwhile, a simple question remains unresolved: What prevented so many governments from restoring to the ESY its once-high standards so that our hospitals in 2003 would not be overcrowded, lacking in crucial equipment, and housed in crumbling old buildings? We made it our chief national aim to organize a successful Olympiad, throwing money into superficially impressive projects, but we have been unable to create a decent public healthcare system…