Health Care Around the World

South African Doctors Conscripted: In the last few years, Nelson Mandela's African National Congress has introduced free care for children and conscripted medical practitioners, according to Jim Peron, executive director of the Institute for Liberal Values in Johannesburg, South Africa. After full conscription of doctors was strongly opposed, Health Minister Nkosazana Zuma opted to mandate one year of service to the state, and call it "training." Zuma also "fired hundreds of qualified doctors from their positions and replaced them with students fresh out of medical school." Many of the young doctors work their mandatory one year and then choose to emigrate. The result: South Africa lost the doctors who wanted to stay and kept the doctors who do not plan to stay. Patients got doctors will little experience in exchange for experienced and qualified practitioners. Doctors who wish to stay in South Africa must now apply for permits to practice in certain areas, thereby giving the government control over where each doctor is allowed to practice.
Newly proposed legislation will also force pharmacists and dentists to work for the government. Mandela, now retired, is attempting to stop the country's brain drain by asking the British government to pass a law forbidding South African-trained nurses from practicing in the country. Some 14,000 of them already work in Great Britain. ("South Africa's Polarized Politics, Ideas on Liberty, January 2001)


Sending American Health Care Dollars to Mexico? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,"The United States and Mexico have reached a formal agreement to establish the U.S. - Mexico Border Health Commission (BHC)...The Commission will serve as a forum to discuss shared health concerns and find ways to improve the health status of people living along the border." Secretary Shalala signed the agreement on July 14, 2000.


Australian's Health Care Services rationed. According to the Center for Independent Studies, a January 1999 report issued by the Perth Metropolitan Health Services Board shows most seriously ill patients fail to receive surgery within accepted time frames, and more than half the patients wait two months or longer for their operations, while some wait more than a year. Since the beginning of Medicare in 1985, private insurance has dropped from approximately 50% to 30% . Because law mandates "community rating"--charging the same high premium for all enrollees regardless of health status--the healthy have dropped coverage while the ill and injured remain.

British patients wait to get on waiting list. According to the New York Times, in an article printed 4/18/99 in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, British citizens wait for at least one year to see the specialist who may schedule a surgical procedure for which the patient might wait another year. There are 1.12 million people on the official waiting list and now citizens are discovering another list, the list to getting on the official list, a list which the British government does not acknowledge. British citizens are upset. Those waiting to see a specialist are on the unofficial list, but are not included in the government statistics. Only the those on the official list are counted as waiting. As Ann Widdecombe, the Tory shadow health secretary said, "...until you get in to see the consultant, no one has made a judgment about the urgency of the case... It's literally playing politics with people's lives."
Brazil government to slash health care spending by $840 million in 1999. "When Selma Duarte suffered stomach pains recently, she had to line up at 4 a.m. and wait two hours just to make an appointment -- for two months later -- at the nearest public hospital." Impending cuts in health care spending will only jeopardize access further. The cuts are the result of agreement reached as part of the $41.5 billion International Monetary Fund bailout announced November 13. " 'If the health cuts go through, they will mean fewer doctors, less medicine and worse care for the majority of Brazilians,' argued Elias Jorge, an adviser to the Nation Health Council, and independent lobby group." (St. Paul Pioneer Press, November 20, 1998)