I want a country of ‘Amancios Ortegas’

The strategies and ways of those who manage Spanish social politics and healthcare have hardly changed in the last few decades but our society certainly has. And when a structure that is already quite rigid is put under pressure, it can break. With 30 years of experience in health management, I still continue to be surprised by the superficial nature of many politicians when addressing complex issues such as health, the future of our pensions or education. As time passes, we believe we have seen and heard it all, even the most absurd perspectives such as that of the recent one of a political group with regards to the donations of the owner of Inditex, Amancio Ortega. This is an argument that, from my point of view, has completely crossed the line and will be difficult to move past (although, I can´t say with complete certainty).

These political leaders have criticized the Galician entrepreneur for making the necessary funds to replace or buy technology for cancer treatment available to autonomous communities, in a selfless manner and without expecting any kind of compensation. It´s hard to put into words just how ridiculous this criticism is. They say that a millionaire can´t set the health strategy of a country, when everybody knows that Mr. Ortega didn´t set, or intend to set, anything. He makes donations so that each region can decide whether to buy more CTs, MRIs or linear accelerators, replace existing equipment or both.

It is a generous gesture that may sound incomprensible to those who only deliver simple messages, doing short-term political and sectarian campaigns. Yet, the truth of the matter is that there are good people in this country, many of them, that want to give back to society some of what they have received.

Unfortunately, we all have a family member or friend who has fought or is fighting against cancer. Therefore, I can´t comprehend how these leaders reject the collaboration of people such as Amancio Ortega (or any other) who want to aid the public health system. I don´t understand how they don´t support the adquisition of state-of-the-art equipment for cancer treatment; that they don´t want the sick to have the closest access to the cure; that they criticize that as a society we find ourselves with a donation that helps us to make a quantitative and qualitative leap forward in the treatment against cancer at a difficult moment for the Spanish economy and with both healthcare and social costs that are starting to overpower us.

We all criticize the fact that the MRI mobile units have to travel to regional hospitals, such as Alzira or Vinarós, in order to treat residents in those areas, while the big cities have excellent centres with cutting-edge equipment. I think about the children, women and men who today have to receive treatment with this technology, perhaps with an outdated machine many kilometres from home. I am sure that they will not understand how Amancio Ortega´s impressive gesture has been criticized.

Nobody cares about who bought an MRI or a CT, just as nobody is interested in who buys the hospital beds or surgical equipment. All we need to know is that, within public healthcare, there are, and will continue to be, the resources and professionals necessary to treat us when needed.

It is worth noting that a gesture such as that of Amancio Ortega´s, which he decided to do without any kind of self-congratulation or publicity, but rather with the discretion by which he has always been characterized, would be put as an example in every country in the world. However, it is not the case. Some political leaders have such a limited vision and are so closed ideologically that they contaminate everything with their sectarian ideology. Their only objective: to attack the private initiative once again.

Perhaps it´s a matter of age but every day I think that I have seen everything; that the ´top ten´ of nonsense from some regarding the healthcare system is complete, but it seems that it is simply not true. However, I´m convinced that, sooner rather than later, Spanish society, – who are always one step ahead -, will enlighten a generation of politicians that will put the interests of the citizens above their own or those of their political party.

In 1986, the President of the Spanish government, Felipe González, used a phrase spoken by the top leader of the Chinese Popular Republic, Deng Xiao Ping: “Black cat, white cat, it matters very little if it hunts rats”. It is great politicians that have demonstrated along the way that the interests of their country and citizens go above and beyond their ideology. This is what we expect from the current political class.

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