Ηealth’s foundation is falling apart: what can we do about it?

stethoscope 2019

(Hush Naidoo, Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Larisse Leal, a fourth year medical student at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora (UFJF-GV), Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


If we think about the health system as a well-structured building, then it must rest in a solid and strong foundation – the Primary Healthcare (PC). Hence, there will be possible to lift up the rest of the construction that is, in fact, the progressively more specialized health’s care. Nowadays, however, it seems that the Primary Healthcare is falling apart, mostly because of the young workforce gradual shortage of interest on that matter. Therefore, this is a subject we should talk – and do something –about.

The Primary Healthcare’s importance was first reinforced by the Declaration of Alma Ata (1978), where the values of social justice, the right to health for all, participation and solidarity; and the principles of equity, universality and accessibility were been established as the ones we should pursue in a health’s system. Achieving this, however, requires we put people at the center of the health care, taking into account their expectations and needs.

Unfortunately, the translation of these values into tangible reforms has been very uneven, although health’s equity enjoys increased prominence in the discourse of political leaders lately. Thus, it’s not rare to see part of the population going through unacceptable and avoidable situations, such as children missing out on essential vaccinations, pregnant women lacking the basic prenatal appointments, old-aged people suffering from uncontrolled chronic diseases (i.e. diabetes, high blood pressure, dyslipidemia), among many others undesirable situations.

Therefore, taking into account its undeniable importance, the remaining question is: why is the Primary Healthcare being so neglected, especially by our new workforce? Why do the majority of health students opt for specializations such as cardiology, dermatology, surgery and radiology; rather than choosing to enter the PC? The answer is quite wide, yet not simple.

Among the reasons that make our new generation to abstain from entering the PC, the following ones are the most representative: much lower payment, prestige and acknowledgment when compared with specialized fields; too much paperwork and the dense clinic scheduling, with only a few minutes per patient. However, the most significant reason seems to be the short exposure to the primary care (e.g. family care) during graduation and residency programs, whereas greater amount of time is dedicated to complicated, rare and unique medical problems. Furthermore, there is also a prevailing negative opinion on PC among residents and professionals, which might discourage even more the interest in primary care.

So what can we do about it? No doubt, we need to gather forces to reshape the culture of Primary Healthcare in our health’s schools and institutions. Thus, it would be necessary to gradually change the health courses’ curriculum in order to increase student’s contact with the family care, and make them work closely with PC professionals. Thereby, it would be possible to demonstrate them how challenging, satisfactory and promising could be a career in this field.  Moreover, we also need to encourage researches and scholarships in the primary care’s field, so that the prestige and interest in this area will able to increase further more.

References

World Health Organization. The World Health Report, 2008. Primary Health Care – Now more than ever. Available on: <https://www.who.int/whr/2008/en/ >. Access in January 17th, 2019.

Lahad A et al. How can we change medical students’perceptions of a career in family medicine? Marketing or substance? Isr J Health Policy Res, 7 (52), 2018. Available on: <https://ijhpr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13584-018-0248-6> Access in January 17th, 2019.

About the author

Larisse Leal is a fourth year medical student at the Federal University of Juiz de Fora (UFJF-GV), Brazil. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA Brazil), currently as an active Trainee. She takes a lot of interest on public health’s issues, in which area she hopes to contribute with researches, articles and extracurricular projects. Furthermore, she believes everybody has the right to health, regardless of their social status, gender, race, age and beliefs. She thinks it’s her duty, as a future health professional, to help society achieve this goal.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

This Chinese tech giant’s latest gadget is… a bus

Conflict of interest and misuse of EU funds: The case of Czech PM Babiš

How to build a model for human security in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

European Commission kicks off major EU trade policy review

5 ways cities can use emerging technologies to fight climate change

UN chief praises impact of Palestine refugee agency as ‘our common success’, at key pledging conference

Data and the future of financial services

EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: Second review shows improvements but a permanent Ombudsperson should be nominated by 28 February 2019

Political solution ‘long overdue’ to protect the children of eastern Ukraine

Road crash deaths and injuries in the world’s cities can be stopped. Here’s how

UN investigates systematic sexual violence across South Sudan

First full satellite survey of devastated ancient Aleppo raises recovery hopes

Is there a cure for corruption in Greece?

Coronavirus: 4 tips for parents who are homeschooling

Terrorism ‘spreading and destabilizing’ entire regions, Guterres warns States, at key Kenya conference

Yemen conflict: ‘Fragile’ hopes rise, as violence decreases and life-saving humanitarian funding surges

Africa’s shrinking lake shows the impact of climate change on women and indigenous people

Why digital inclusion must be at the centre of resetting education in Africa

Independent rights experts sound alarm at Iran protest crackdown, internet blackout

Gender equality: Parliament strives to be frontrunner among EU Institutions

Despite progress, companies face gender equality ‘backlash’: UN business body

The historic female struggle in medicine

Here’s how we can make innovation more inclusive

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: prizewinning journalists freed in Myanmar, new tracking tool for suspected terrorists, and a global bid to stop snakebite deaths

We are witnessing a revolution in genomics – and it’s only just begun

Hydrogen power is here to stay. How do we convince the public that it’s safe?

Migration surge leaves children stranded, begging on Djibouti’s streets

Amsterdam is developing a fleet of autonomous boats to reduce city traffic

Will Brexit shatter the EU or is it still too early to predict?

Sustainable transport can’t just depend on batteries. Here’s why

Mental health and suicide: when the alarm bells are faced with deaf ears

In Chad, top UN officials say humanitarian response must go ‘hand in hand’ with longer-term recovery

Taj Mahal closes as European Union considers non-essential travel ban – Today’s COVID-19 updates

China has announced ambitious plans to cut single-use plastic

7 ways the ‘biological century’ will transform healthcare

Nowhere is safe to hide in war-torn Yemen, say UN-appointed rights experts

Mergers: Commission refers acquisition of newly created joint venture by Telefónica and Liberty Global to the UK competition authority

Tackling youth unemployment through the eyes of a European entrepreneur

VAT Gap: EU countries lost €137 billion in VAT revenues in 2017

This is how climate change is impacting the ocean – and what we can do about it

Supply chains have been upended. Here’s how to make them more resilient

How Europe’s green tech ‘scale-ups’ can help tackle climate change

How nudge theory can help empty our plastic-filled ‘drawers of shame’

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: Busting the myth by looking at the facts

We are stronger than this pandemic (COVID-19)

The gender gap of medicine in 2018

Obese people more likely to smoke, says new gene research: WHO

Seeing through the mist of myths of Coronavirus

COVID-19: MEPs debate how to best protect cross-border and seasonal workers

From Graduation to professional career: has medicine, in Brazil, become more feminist?

What can be done to avoid the risk of being among the 7 million that will be killed by air pollution in 2020?

Millions of people eat octopus- here’s why we shouldn’t

These Dutch microgrid communities can supply 90% of their energy needs

Trump ‘used’ G20 to side with Putin and split climate and trade packs

After the George Floyd protests, what next for racial justice in the US?

To end deforestation, we must protect community land rights

New round of bargaining for the 2014 EU budget late in autumn

UN agencies call for more resettlement and end to detention of asylum seekers in Libya

Turkey: Commission continues humanitarian support for refugees

Why ‘floating wind’ is key to the energy transition and how to get it onto the sea quickly

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s