Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – In the interests of transparency, The Curmudgeon confesses that he is a practicing member of the world’s second oldest profession, one which has inspired playwrights to fits of giddiness (“the first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”—Henry VI, Part II, Act IV). However, he is appalled by the reaction to President Dilma’s proposal to import foreign doctors to Brazil.
The Brazilian Medical Association, which has already been condemned by the federal anti-trust agency for fixing prices, has decided to go one step further and decry the proposal to import fully-qualified medical doctors from countries like Spain, Portugal and Cuba.
Why? Because the Association foresees the end to its monopoly, whereby most doctors do not have to worry about tomorrow, counting on an ever larger pie of patients to be divided amongst themselves, as the Brazilian middle class flourishes and begins to afford private health care rather than relying on the (dreadful) public health system.
All the “liberal” professions in Brazil, meaning those which are not, theoretically, minions of their employers, but independent in their professional judgment and comportment, have legislation preventing outsiders from practicing what insiders preach.
Lawyers have OAB, which licenses those who can practice law. Engineers have CREA, which licenses those who can practice engineering. Doctors have CRM; Pharmacists have CRF; Chemists have CRQ; Accountants have CRC. All of these have one unstated purpose: do NOT, under any circumstances, allow anyone who is not one of ours to cross our drawbridge, swim our moat, breach our portcullis or otherwise pierce our carefully constructed defences.
The Curmudgeon asks: Do you believe that medical science as it is practiced in Brazil is inherently different from medicine as it is practiced in Portugal or Spain or Cuba?
The Curmudgeon asks: How do you explain that there are more doctors in Rio’s Zona Sul than there are in all of the States of Roraima, Rondonia, Acre or Amapá or any other of those God-forsaken locations?
The Curmudgeon answers: R$R$R$R$! Carioca doctors think they have a right to become rich, and most refuse to go anywhere at all that will not contribute to their eventual “right” to have a home in Rio, a beach home in Búzios and a foothills home in Friburgo.
The Curmudgeon admits that “the Law” is not an exact science and that “the Law” in Spain and Portugal and Cuba could well be significantly different from “the Law” in Brazil. What the Curmudgeon will NOT admit is that medicine, an exact science, is significantly different in any of these countries.
The Curmudgeon, furthermore, refuses to admit that medical doctors from Spain, Portugal and Cuba will be unable to communicate with their Brazilian patients. There may be problems when Portuñol becomes Spanglais, but doctors do not work alone, there are family and friends and nurses and staff in all the places where doctors work—even those where wannabe wealthy Brazilian doctors fear to go and do not go.
The Curmudgeon has lived in Brazil for almost 36 years, and what he has learned is that Brazilians will help, they will communicate, they will find someone who speaks the language of friendship, of brotherhood, of fellow-suffering, in words that no doctors, no matter what their native language, will fail to understand.
So, bravo, Dilma! Doctors from Abroad! Yes!
Michael Royster, aka THE CURMUDGEON first saw Rio forty-plus years ago, fetched up on these shores exactly 35 years ago, still loves it, notwithstanding being a charter member of the most persecuted minority in (North) America today, the WASPs (google it!)(get over it!)