Reader Comments

response to article by Oscar Feo on Neo-liberalism in relation to health care

by richard stern (2008-12-01)


No sooner had I finished reading the article in Social Medicine by Oscar Feo on Neo-liberalism and Venezuelan Health Care reform, than I saw a Reuters article about Chavez on Yahoo news, in which states that he is trying to press for constitutional reform so that he can again run for office even beyond 2013. There are shades of gray in everything, but Feo is praising Chavez for these health system reforms, and for standing firm in the face of neo-liberalist policies. But surely there must be someone else besides Chavez who could lead the country in the same direction if that is what the Venezuelan people really want. If Health Care reform depends on just one person, it's not too likely to be sustainable. If anything the increasing polarization of the society in Venezuela caused by Chavez's quasi dictatorial attitude on so many issues, works against truly sustainable growth and development.

I would argue that health care reform is good, according to parameters laid out by Feo and his description of what has apparently happened in Venezuela, but that Chavez is not so good.

It is also hard for me to see a direct relationship between the horrible health care systems in the public sector in Guatemala, Peru, Honduras, etc, and neo-liberal policies. I am not an expert on the macro-factors that may have influenced these systems over the course of many years, but these systems have barely changed since I started visiting Health Ministry hospitals in these countries, ten years ago. Neo-liberalism is not impacting on them either for bad or for good as far as I can see. I am not in favor of privatization, but I think the biggest obstacle to Health Care for all in these countries is the government itself, which is government for the elite by the elite, in which the poor are viewed as expendable.

As well as corruption at all levels, from the top all the way down to corrupt health care administrators at the clinic level in the public sector.

My analysis is far too simplistic. I am sure of that. I think that Feo's analysis is also highly simplistic, in terms of his failure to consider a whole range of highly complex factors that contribute to the failure of health care systems for the poor in most Latin American nations.

Richard

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