Watching a programme on the precarious situation of the Brazilian Health System, known here as SUS (Sitema Único de Saúde), made me feel sick last night. Although I was neither surprised nor shocked, I had a rebelling feeling at what I saw. People waiting for more than 11 hrs to have a doctor have a look at them, a bloody one who said it’s the patients’ fault the fact that doctors aren’t able to attend to everyone because the patients go to the wrong health centre when they get ill, can you believe it?
In one of the centres, a woman, who had waited for hours, was finally able to have a doctor examine her. He didn’t even touch her. From the other side of his desk, he told her to open her mouth, then he checked her throat with a small light – without standing up or touching her, don’t forget – and prescribed some antibiotic injections. It took him less than 2 minutes to do that.
In order to avoid situations like that many Brazilians pay for health insurance. However, it doesn’t mean they don’t go through them once in a while. I have health insurance, which I don’t usually need, but this morning it was like being at a SUS health centre. I’d waited for 1 hour when the doctor, who wasn’t an oftalmologist, called on me. It was just like that woman I saw last night on TV. I told him what was wrong, he, then, used a tiny light to look at my eyes, without even touching me and prescribed the same eye drops I already use for my contact lenses. I haven’t used it yet and my eye is getting ok again. After all, it was nothing serious, but the feeling of wasted time I had when I left the building still annoys me. Can you imagine what could have happened if it was something really serious? That’s why knowing that people in Brazil die while waiting for assistance or for having a wrong diagnosis, unfortunately, doesn’t surprise me.