Thank you to my friends at Comunidad Pacheco for opening the doors for me to reflect on what we are experiencing. First, I introduce myself, I am Patricio Piscicelli Mosquera, general practitioner, head of the health center of Las Tunas.
"There have been as many plagues as wars in the world, and yet plagues and wars surprise people who are always unsuspecting," writes Albert Camus in The Plague. Nobody imagined this. Perhaps as a reward of history, this pandemic came some time later to our American continent, giving us an opportunity.
"THE VIRUS MAKES EVERYTHING TRANSPARENT"
In a society like the one we live in, with overflowing, unequal cities, without access to basic services, with poly-medicated grandparents, crammed into geriatric homes, poorly fed adults, with chronic diseases on the rise, in a society with agricultural extractivism one can say that THE TABLE IS SERVED so that a virus comes and a party is thrown, so to speak. May this leave a great questioning of the production models and the capitalist system. We must return to food sovereignty, cooperatives, and the popular economy.
More and more people are understanding that what we need is a free quality Public Health System and NOT the false hope of a Private Health System. I want to assess with you the excellent measures that the Government of our country is taking. This would have been unthinkable without a Ministry of Health like the one we have. Unfortunately, brother countries in our continent have conservative governments that privilege other interests and expose their people to disease and death. Although the sanitary situation in Argentina is delicate, all the policies of the state are aimed at the CARE OF THE POPULATION, a fundamental aspect to go through this moment.
In the health world, there is much discussion about the measures that countries should adopt to face the pandemic. Positions that range from taking no action and "waiting for the wave to pass", (taking lives and without stopping the economy) to stopping everything with a total quarantine (prioritizing health). I think that, at this point in the quarantine, we realize that the position of doing nothing that Brazil took, for example, is totally incorrect and murderous. But, on the other side of the road, it is not a paradise either. I mean, I think we already realized that the measure of stopping everything, of "social, preventive and obligatory isolation", makes the possibilities of contagion lower, but other problems are exacerbated (femicides, psychiatric problems, poverty, alcohol consumption, suicides). And some public health critics say that these measures can generate more damage than the virus itself. So what measure is ideal? The one that is adapted to each place, to each country, depending a lot on what role the state plays, that is, if we have a state present or not. I think it's good to think about STAGES at this point. Now we are in a time when, in order to reduce the damage, we all have to comply with the quarantine, perhaps later we will go through more relaxed stages and then we will probably be in quarantine again. The important thing is to be attentive and follow the directives in this sense.
Some important points that I would like to share with you:
- The relevance of SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS, POLITICS, VOLUNTEERS to help those who need it most, militating for solidarity, ensuring a safe information course, assisting eventual quarantined families and older adults without containment networks.
- The importance of respecting government decisions, thinking of ourselves not as victims of this situation but as ACTIVE ACTORS. Nobody is saved alone.
- Let's understand that the measures are taken in the health field (such as a hospital or neighborhood ward) will seek to PRESERVE THE HEALTH OF THE HEALTH STAFF so that they can take care of their population correctly.
- Let us try to provide a LISTENING TO THOSE WHO NEED IT, sometimes it is not necessary to say, but to listen. Let's ask what he needs, we already know how he is... Let's think that in this time we can feel more anxious, sadder, with insomnia, but it doesn't mean that we have a mental or psychiatric illness. These are expected reactions to crisis situations like the one we are going through. Let's be tolerant of family members, partners, friends.
- Let's take care of OUR HOME, at home we are relieved by the quarantine to be communicated, not fight within the possible and as Pepe Mujica says, "spend some time with that we have galloping inside us. Art always liberates, so let's dance, sing, play with the kids, give the necessary importance to school work. Humor is a very good companion.- For young people, let's help our parents or grandparents with shopping. THE CORNER WILL WAIT, the clubs, my friends' house, boyfriends, will wait. Now it's time to stay. Among boys, don't hesitate to ask how they are doing. Inhabiting fragility does not weaken us, quite the contrary.
- To STRENGTHEN OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM, it is elementary to eat healthily, drink water, sleep 8 hours a day, and exercise at home. (We always find some little place!) And although we must accept sad days, let us try to carry this time with joy. Fear makes us sick and weakens our defenses against viruses like COVID.
- As for INFORMATION, it is important to consult official sources and not to watch more than twice a day the news. Let's be patient with this time, let's not enter into a state of constant alarm.
- This time shows us how we are, neither better nor worse. Within the neighborhoods, we see many acts of solidarity (by those who have always worked in this direction) as well as situations of discrimination or individualism (by those who have worked in this other direction). Let us not dehumanize those who have been infected. They are not "those who come from outside and bring the virus", they are not "sick", they are first people, like you and me. They are not "danger" or "threat": they are people who need to be cared for, let's put SOLIDARITY at the center of everything. Let's not impose the pandemic of fear.
- When we say #StayHome there are many people who are homeless; when we say "keep your distance" there are many people who live in overcrowded conditions; when we say "wash your hands" a percentage of the population does not have drinking water: Let's not forget that in several places in Argentina inequality and injustice were already there before, this pandemic only aggravates them.
I close with a phrase of Agustín Barúa, a fellow psychiatrist from Paraguay: "We lived in a world where it was FORBIDDEN to STOP, long ago we lived running and now it is time to stop, we deserve it".