Brazilian pandemic: far beyond the virus

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Manoel Flávio Silva Kanisky, a fifth period medical student at Unicesumar, Maringá, Brazil. He is affiliated with the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writers and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


In spite of scientific evolution and global efforts to face the pandemic in many realms, its third wave still threatens humanity, especially in peripheral countries due to the precarious life quality and lack of basic services, which has been worsening since the beginning of this event. There is so much to be learned from the past year waves and to be adopted by governments, in order to handle medical and socioeconomic chaos in a most humanistic way.

In Latin American countries as Brazil, not only the media widespread ‘’denialist ideal’’ relies the main factor of failure on fighting COVID-19 and its multifaceted effects. Besides the high demand for medical supplies, chronic socioeconomic disorders have been deepened, through increasing unemployment, poverty rate and famine[1]. The government, led by austerity thought, hasn’t established credit policy for the sake of small-medium business, and neither labor protection measures. Nonetheless, the Congress voted for an emergency aid (R$ 600 per month, while the minimum wage is R$ 1100) to the most careless people, which received it during the year before, so the economy minister decreased to almost R$ 250[2], at the same time the pandemic became more serious, with high death rates per day and public hospitals collapse on many cities. Meanwhile, the Brazilian state approved a shameful tax forgiveness to wealthy churches[3] (1 billion of debt) and didn’t change the financial system structure, to which are transferred everyday almost 5 billions. Austerity doesn’t affect them, it’s only evoked towards the welfare policies[4]. Therefore, the most relevant points from this situation are that social issues are neglected and healthcare is seen as a single business, thereby the government efforts to disestablish the public health have been undeniable through fund cuts (specially on the pandemic peak), in opposition to the fact that some countries, such as Spain, have nationalized private hospitals to fight the pandemic.

Another notable lesson from the pandemic is that we need to take care of life and economy, and there is no paradox between them. This false dichotomy is heavily disseminated when more restrictive measures are planned, as if citizens were obliged to decide: ‘’life or work’’, according to the extreme ‘’neoliberal’’ (i)logics. Both options can be possible, nevertheless, it doesn’t depend only on people’s behavior (social isolation, masks and alcohol gel), but specially on a national planning to deal with the pandemic[5]. Simply keeping the active working class is not enough to save lives, and the main goal should be making people stay at home and provide them the necessary conditions for live without the need of going to work and exposing themselves. In order to that, more assistance policies and structural reforms (progressive tax policy) must be implemented by the state, particularly towards ‘’basic’’ survival itens (such as rice, beans, gas cylinder, water…), in order not to increase their prices.

At last, the current Brazilian situation in the pandemic expresses the institutional disservice before all, associated with neoliberal harm to lives and the public healthcare at all.

References

  1. Santos RT. O neoliberalismo como linguagem política da pandemia: a Saúde Coletiva e a resposta aos impactos sociais. Physis, 2020; 30(2): e300211. https://doi.org/10.1590/s0103-73312020300211.

About the author

Manoel Flávio Silva Kanisky, 22 years old, is a fifth period medical student at Unicesumar, Maringá, Brazil.

He is a Local coordinator of IFMSA Brazil Unicesumar, member of  the Endocrinology and Metabology League of Maringá, and research director of the Complementary Medicine League of Maringá.

 

 

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