Rude interruption… Good reasoning…

A Canadian medical student and physician interrupted a press conference with the minister of health to announce their dislike for the new cuts and policy changes that will change funding and provision of health care to refugees in Canada.

Here is the video.

I don’t necessarily agree with their tactics.  As Patrick said, it was like they were bullying the minister.  And it was rude to interrupt the press conference.

I like to think there are other ways to approach these issues.  But, I know it is a struggle to get meetings with such officials.  And that the current government has been making questionable decisions that sometimes have not reflected perspectives of the majority.

This is something that needs to be said.  It seems that the current government has been making cuts in areas that matter to us and areas that are a point of pride for our country, like universal health care, education and the general welcoming attitude.

I don’t profess to understand politics.  But, I do understand people.  And I know that the changes that are proposed and happening affect people.

My medical school had a fabulous program where the first and second year medical students do full histories and physicials on new refugees to aid their family physician.  They, in partnership with a supervising physician, do urgent consults for any particular needs and do groundwork to get people cared for in an efficient manner.  Often, this is done through a translator.

In doing this program, I met people from around the world who had seen terrifying things.  I referred a young man with kidney stones who had never seen a physician to a urologist.  I helped another young family get in contact with a dentist to help remove and repair the rotting teeth of two of their children.  I met a woman who delivered all three of her children at home on the floor who had never seen a physician and had never had a pap smear… And encouraged her to get preventative care.

This program made me aware of the fears and struggles of refugees.  That these people have nothing.  They come with the clothes on their back.   They don’t have money for medications or dental care or, well, anything in some cases.  So, the fact that our refugees get medications covered temporarily always seemed obvious to me.  Otherwise, they will just get really sick and need even more care.  It seems like the right thing to do.  Protect those you took in to protect.

The people trying to voice their opinions in this video have seen this too.  They understand the value in refugee care.  That it is more than dollar signs.  And that because we provide the extra care temporarily means that they are saving money overall.

The thing is, when we care well for immigrants, they stay in the country.  They become more healthy and can bring skills to the table.  They become contributing members of society.  They aren’t freeloading.   They are simply getting on their feet to take part in our society.

As physicians, we took an oath to “do no harm.”  Doing nothing can be passively doing harm when something can be done.  Refugee and immigrant health care are places where something can be done.

This physician and medical student are taking a stand for what should be valued and maintained.  Where cuts should be avoided.  When you can’t get meetings, when your viewpoints are avoided, sometimes extreme measures need to be taken.  Especially when speaking for people who don’t have a voice for themselves. 

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