I am very excited to have stumbled upon your community to hear more about open access health care. I am a junior doctor in the UK, currently 3 years out of med school, with an MSc in Humanitarian Studies. Coming from an academic angle I am very much aware of the limitations and formalised structures of my knowledge and learning so far.
I am taking a couple of years out of formal training to take part in the wider world of health, healthcare and healthcare delivery. I have recently returned from Belgrade, Serbia supporting an unofficial camp of around 800-1200 migrants, majority Afghan, all male, squatting in the city centre. I teamed up with a creative and passionate trauma nurse practitioner from the states, who had a lot of involvement in the squat clinics in Athens, and together we built a small clinic tent (literally gazebo and tarpaulin) and set about delivering health care to the community. One of the earliest challenges we faced was how to deliver healthcare where there was no infrastructure in place, not even a basic clean, safe and private space to consult or examine patients. In this setting the lack of infrastructure allowed us to be more creative and fluid about the way we delivered healthcare. Challenging the limited view that healthcare intervention revolve solely around the quick consolation, examination of patients and distribution of pharmaceuticals. In fact these are the last stages of healthcare and may only be offering a quick fix to a much broader problem. I think it is so important to be a part of the wider community outside of clinic walls.
The second interesting thing for me was the recognition of environmental factors and how significantly they affected peoples health. We had serious problems with poor sanitation and hygiene and the inevitable infestation of scabies and body lice. Tackling these issues wasn’t about treated their medical symptoms (although hopefully we try to achieve that too), it was about recognising the source of the problem and working out ways to overcome or improve the problems. Work such as this prompts you to talk to different voluntary groups and communities about the work they’re doing, the infrastructure they’re building and their impact on the “camp”. Bringing a collective ethos to the action and work that everyone was participating in. We also delivered or tried to deliver public health information and education to the community about why they were suffering and how they may be able it help themselves to overcome it (ie. itching and washing). Breaking down the perception that you can solve everything with a pill and encouraging people to recognise the environmental, social and political factors that have an impact on their health. Hoping to encourage peoples independence, knowledge and agency in self care.
Having spent the majority of my life so far in school, I haven’t had much opportunity to take part in activist or anarchist action. As a beginner, newby or a novice as yet I can’t define myself by either of the above. The world at times feels like a dark place, as the planet heats up, the weather fluctuates to greater extremes, there is an increase in natural disasters, war, famine and draught still devastate and kill it is easy to feel overwhelmed. I would love to take part in a community where, despite the heavy dose, cynicism does not prevail. Where in the face of adversity we hope to find some cooperation, creativity, and compassion. To talk about events, learn develop and evolve my own understanding and hopefully share some of my knowledge, experience and thinking too.