Neo-liberal Health Systems Collapsed Due to Corona Outbreak – Emre Güntekin
Capitalists have systematically commodified very basic social rights with neoliberal policies for nearly 50 years. Today, when the humanity face the pandemi, once again it is understood how important are the social rights, such as the health service which totally abandoned the greed of the market.
With the corona virus outbreak, health systems in many countries, especially in Italy, are falling apart. Health workers in Italy state that the health system has been experiencing peak times , when 250 people died in one day, since World War II. Due to the overcapacity cases, doctors only On the other hand, it turned out that doctors leave critical elderly the corona patients to death because of the limits of the health system capacity.
Giorgio Gori, Bergamo mayor, tweeted: “It seems that the increase [in the number of cases] is slowing down, but it’s only because we have no longer beds in intensive care (few are added with great effort). Patients who cannot be treated are left to die”
While this is the situation in the northern region of the country, which is relatively rich and industrialized and where health facilities are more developed; It is feared that the situation may be even worse if a similar cases would experienced in the southern regions, which are undeveloped economically and in lack of health services.
How nice isn’t it? Millions of workers keep the system alive by working for years, there are huge health cuts from your salaries, and you are left alone with your fate at the most critical moment. This situation and the concern that other European countries may experience what happened in Italy, starts open the discussion on health systems in Europe. In Germany, Merkel explains that Up to 70% of Germany could become infected, while England discusses whether the problem can be solved by herd immunity instead of preventing the spread of the virus.
We can have a broad idea about the reasons of the healthcare system crisis by looking at the table below. The table shows that the number of intensive care beds available for every 100,000 people in the given countries. Even in Germany, the best in Europe, this number is 29.2 per 100,000 people! While Merkel says that 70% of the population (around 58 million people) can get sick, she does not forget to add: “The process has to be focused on not overburdening the health system by slowing the virus' “It’s about winning time” She said so because she knows that the health system will collapse, as in Italy.
Therefore, in the UK, unrealistic suggestions for the corona virus to spread to the majority of the population over time and thus to gain “herd immunity” are primary suggested solutions by the ruling classes. The Boris Johnson government prefers to play such gamble to prevent the people from being overburdened with the health system! An approach that will cheer Malthus's soul! The scenarios that this step will be taken by the government will cause 80% of the population to be infected by 66 million populated country and that will result in death of approximately 500,000 people. More than 200 scientists in the UK have issued an open letter raising their objection to this policy.
Similarly, in France, the health system has been an important topic of discussion for a long time. The health system has been a hot topic because of the attacks of Macron, which has taken steps in implementing neoliberal reforms in the past years, but every step he has taken is placed on the barrier put before the workers. In December, 660 doctors issued a letter saying that public hospitals died in France. The reasons are clear: social cuts, inadequate personnel, bad physical conditions…Healthcare workers went on strikes for several time starting from March last year until early 2020.
The collapse of the health system in the media is expressed as follows: “It is no problem to postpone non-urgent (planned) surgeries. But the beds for cardiology, cancer therapy and long-term treatments will likely be seized. … Unfortunately, we have to say that many patients with a disease other than Covid-19 have less chance of treatment. … Because the delay of treatment in advanced diseases reduces the likelihood of patient survival. Setting a priority here is a very inconvenient business. With this crisis, our hospital system is getting weaker.”
In these times, capitalism incapabilities and weaknesses to solve such crisis crisis manifests itself more clearly. Many countries are preparing to introduce military-authoritarian measures against the corona virus. For authoritarian right-wing governments, the corona virus is also a rationale for controlling the streets with extraordinary measures. On the other hand, just like in the 2008 crisis, states are already in a race to save their companies that are negatively affected by the corona virus disaster. In order to avoid a possible collapse scenario, the European Central Bank announced a 120-billion-euro support package. In Italy, where the crisis was felt the most, Guiseppe Conti joined this group with 25 billion euro.
It seems that the rulers will again convey to the capitalists what they have stolen from laborers for years. Moreover, instead of finding a solution to the disaster that threatens the health of millions of people, they will look for the way to save the economy in crisis. This is the only solution that neoliberal capitalism can create in almost every crisis!
The corona virus reminded us once again how big the system is full of contradictions. All the social and natural destruction caused by the capitalist system will lie on the working classes yet again! Cristiano Ronaldo can buy an island for his family and live there leaving all the dangers behind with their private jet plane and wait there for years for this crisis to pass. However, there is no other option for billions of poor laborers around the world. As Rosa Luxembourg reminds us at the beginning of the 20th century, we will now face either the socialism or the barbarism dilemma more often.
Social state practices can of course be an option to alleviate the crisis and in any case, we must struggle to free basic human rights, such as health, from capitalist ambition and to provide them free of charge. However, the contradictions of capitalism lie too deep to be fixed by these social reforms. Limitless plunder drags humanity and our globe into an inevitable destruction. The way to reverse the capitalist destruction and distribute wealth in a just way for everyone; It lies in the construction of an egalitarian order that puts human health in the foreground, not capital. The only option that can achieve this is socialism.