Monday, March 20, 2006

On Individual Responsibility

Today I read in one of the largest swedish morning papers about Swedish GBS infection handling. Thirty per cent of all women carries the Group B Streptococcus bacteria and in fifty per cent of every delivery it is transferred to the baby. One out of five hundred gets ill, it's app ninty babies per year. Without treatment there is up to one hundred per cent mortality. GBS can easily be screened on pregnant women and if found treated successfully with antibiotics. This is normal procedure in many contries such as US, Australia, Spain and France. But not in Sweden, and the question is why?

WHY is Sweden not giving it's citizens best quality medical treatment when it comes to important areas such as childbirth as well as for example cancer, mental illness? Last ten-fifteen years most of us Swedes have experienced many examples from our immediate surroundings where we've seen that the system doesn't work satisfactory anymore. One of my sisters who's mentally ill does not get much more than pills though she needs so much more. I'm completely panicing when it comes to my coming delivery. Will there be a hospital room available at my nearest hospital or will I be directed to another hospital? I was directed to a hospital kind of far from where we live last time I gave birth and the prognoses are even worse this year. I don't want to travel far with the risk of giving birth on the motorway the day my baby boy wants to arrive! There are many more examples. As far as I can remember we've expected full medical care from our national medical service system as we've had a history of paying tons of taxes and thought of Sweden as being an exemplary welfare state. And, the taxes has not decreased the last thirty years rather constantly increased.

WHY has Sweden not managed to diverge tax money back to its citizens in an effective way? Shouldn't medical care be one top priority in a functioning welfare state? I believe the reason is a political system error which can be described with social democratic policy that we've had for more than seventy years. A policy based on values such as the collective rather than the individual. In order to maintain such a value system more and more money have needed to be diverged to areas handling for example unemployment, long-term illness etc. Today we have one million Swedes in working age (we have totally sligtly less than six million people in working age) who does not go to work everyday since they are unemplyed, long-term ill etc. Many of these are dependent on government subsidies and most likely will vote for the same system they're so dependent on all over again.

I believe Swedish government needs a change in its policy value basis. The focus should be on actions that would help individuals fulfill their dreams; most of all facilitate emplyment! The result would be happier and healthier people! I'm not sure though that the Swedish people is mature or strong enough to see its need of a more individual focused policy. We speak of ourselves as a people who care about the rejected, we want everyone to be treated equal and so forth. Many believe this is what is being "social democratic" and for many people social democratic policy is equivalent with what constitutes the Swedish national identity. Moving towards a more pure liberal democracy would for them mean abandoning these values not understanding that much of these ideas actually are liberal in it's origin.

However, my hope is that we all stop relying so much on the system and that we take our individual responsibilities for our lives, families, neighbourhood, community (geographical or virtual), nation, region and globally in the given order. This way there's some hope we'll see some changes that will be benefical for everyone - I'm sure!!

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