Tuesday, November 15, 2005

General Practitioners in the Heart of the Suburban Rebellion

A Press Release from the Syndicat de la Medicine Générale [General Practitioners Trade Union]

There are still General Practitioners working in the housing projects where the rebellion is rumbling.

We are in a privileged position to witness the deterioration of living conditions that have transformed the residents’ daily lives into a series of humiliations, which in turn lead to illness. Our doctor’s offices are the places where this suffering is expressed. We cannot remain impassive, nor can we claim to be professionals who are not implicated in this suffering. The government’s policies have a tendency to use General Practitioners to smother revolt, forbidding us to do anything other than giving out drugs to counter anxiety and depression. We demand the right to change how we practice medicine and how we are paid, so that we may adapt to the realities we are faced with, to be able to listen, to work together and to try to go from treatment to healthcare.

The health insurance reform aggravated unequal access to treatment, and forms part of this heightened social exclusion. We refuse to be complicit with this injustice that requires sick people to pay more and more in order to receive care. We know that they are in a situation of having to choose between eating and going to the doctor.

This is unacceptable, which is also what this explosion of anger is telling us.

We also know that this youth rebellion is not the work of “trash.” These so-called thugs express themselves in the doctor’s office. We understand that the violence is mainly self-destructive. It takes the form of drug use, and like all risk-taking behaviour it springs from not having any hope of finding a place in our society. As general practitioners, we are well placed to explain to these young people how absurd and dangerous their behaviour is, but we cannot deny that they are right to be angry.

At a time when the policies the government is choosing could make general medicine disappear – and not only from the at-risk neighbourhoods – it is the time to state, loud and clear, that we will not be able to escape from this vicious cycle of violence without providing general practitioners and other social service and healthcare workers with the necessary financial and organizational resources to do their jobs.

Syndicat de la Medicine Générale
Email : mailto:syndmedgen@free.fr

Please note that the above text about about the situation in the French suburbs comes from the Indymedia Paris website and was translated by yours truly. I have a “fast and loose” translation philosophy, meaning that when there is a choice between readability and the original phraseology i tend to favour the former, provided that the meaning stays the same. The original document can be seen in French.

Please also note that i am translating this as i have not been able to find any radical accounts of the riots or the police racism that provoked them in English… i do not necessarily agree with the author’s point of view, nor do they necessarily agree with mine. Si quelqu’un a un meilleur texte à suggérer, svp envoyez-moi le!

For background to the riots, including a timeline, check out the Wikipedia entry.

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