Opinion | Improving health is not opening medical schools. By Kristin Suleng (@KSuleng) #OpinionVP

The United States shows these days that it is easier to publicly confirm the end of a pandemic than to admit the economy has entered a new recession. It is not in vain that the coronavirus has come so that we realize that humanity has no other destiny than the disjunction ‘either health or economy’. The official American epidemiologist has experienced this week the usual thing of the position, the syndrome of the excuse of the next day. news is that Anthony S. Fauci, before a doctor than an advisor, dares to answer the question about how much is left for the end of the pandemic, the least important thing was what he answered (“we are out of the pandemic”) and what he later qualified (“he should have said the acute component of the pandemic phase”). The answer is yes and no.

Around here, repairs, when they really are, are late and bad, and slowness always sacrifices historical context. The approval of implementing the Medicine Degree at the University of Alicante, based on scientific criteria to address “the need to strengthen education in the health field”, according to its decision makers, does not anesthetize the old zero kilometer confrontations of that policy of proximity that claims a university for each city, which confuses the information society with professional association. All solidarity with our best implementers of the placemaking, which predicted the eradication of the union division in the public space. The good thing about this era is that the fire goes out at the stroke of a cluster.

That it is noted that the decision of the Puig administration has ignited the conflict between the Alicante universities is enough to make the local soap opera morbid, but that is not the essence of the matter. Has anyone asked our policy makers if there is a shortage of licensed doctors and why? True, it is easier to get entangled with the fact that politics with health or health policy are not the same.

A new Faculty of Medicine can never be unwelcome by the common interpretation of citizenship, which understands as a benefit the possibility that more neighbors have access to qualified training that, once finished, will translate into improvements in health services that are lacking in its environment. This is the fishing ground where politics likes to fish, of course. But in this preconceived idea, which mixes the graduate population with the availability of services, the demands of the teaching staff, students and professional associations, who receive the increase in places for medical studies, can hardly penetrate.

The argument that Spain is the second country in number of medical schools by population density is not new. If this reason is intended to convince laymen, the Malvarrosa sanitary facilities will soon succumb to the water from the polar melting. The medical groups preach in the desert drawing attention to the specific figures: in recent years there has been an increase from 28 to 44 universities that offer the Degree (approved in 5 public and 11 private), which has increased access from 5,870 to 7,360 places without this 25% increase meaning having more professionals for the health systemdespite the fact that the ratio of doctors in Spain exceeds the European average, compared to the nursing shortage.

And this is where the draft debate is served. Stop longing for overflowing faculties in the 80s. The current conflict is not a deficit of graduates each year, but of active doctors. That the World Health Organization (WHO) and other European entities have been saying it for years does not matter.

The problem of the lack of practicing doctors affects all of Europe, and the coronavirus exacerbates health stress due to the lack of adequate human resource management in national health systems. You will be able to see it in a sophisticated way in migration statistics or in revivals from Doctor in Alaskaas reviewed New York Times in this human chronicle of doctor Martial Jardela young doctor who travels through the sanitary deserts of France in a motorhome.

Nor is it appropriate to restrict the debate to medicine, when the problem affects a large part of the health professions. It should not be forgotten that of the twenty professions that are most mobilized in Europe, half of them correspond to the field of healthand in this order: nursing, medicine, physical therapy, dentistry, ancillary care, veterinary surgery, pharmacy, psychology, occupational therapy, and radiation therapy.

The doctor Martial Jardel.  Photo: RADIO FRANCE/-ALAIN GINESTET

The Forum of the Medical Profession, which brings together the most representative organizations of doctors, prefers to describe the lack of professionals as “alleged”. The entity, which has been discussing the inconsistency of the numerus clausus, points out the determining factors of the problem, and how curious, the lack of graduates is not mentioned: the inability of the health system to absorb the demand for access to specialized training, the high number of those who opt for a second specialty, the insufficient labor supply , the mobility of professionals between autonomies and the departure of specialists abroad, the increase in doctors who practice in private health or the precariousness of working conditions. It summarizes perfectly the doctor Elena Married. These labor ills are not cured just by remodeling the MIR with more places, although for that it is necessary to study other models.

We only remember this painful horizon on the waiting list. Health economics has focused more, although not better, on infrastructure (the brick and technology) than on human resources (the workforce), which are the ones that provide services. The discussion cannot be reduced to a sectoral malaise of labor policy. Health affects us all. The “citizen debates” with a vocation for the future, in which the same citizens as always participate, are short-sighted towards the health care that we need for those cities that must be fully lived. Remember, we are not all doctors, but we are all patients.