Latin America is rife with corruption. It is the reason that there is such a gap between the rich and poor. The people in power keep filling their pockets and the pockets of those around them that are helping their cause or keeping them in power. The money that governments should be using for health, education and infrastructure gets siphoned away with just enough left to maintain the facade that gives the appearance that they are doing their job!
In many circumstances they have even given up on trying to pull the wool. For example, one obvious role of any local council is the maintenance of the roads. In the province of Lanús where I am working, the roads are in a horrible state. I would seriously not want to be an unsuspecting motorcyclist in Lanús with the size of the gaping holes on the streets.
That is a small example of corruption that is visible at a local council level. Now, Argentina claim to have free health care. To some degree that is true. There is a very big question mark around quality of that health service. For example, it is possible to see a doctor for free, but the hospitals or the clinics don’t have the resources to make the necessary tests to acquire an accurate diagnosis.
A friend of mine was recently admitted into hospital after his condition deteriorated over several weeks. Tests were done and slow results made for a frustratingly slow, painful, and very stressful wait for him and his family not knowing his diagnosis. He was finally diagnoses with meningitis.
The second time that I saw him in hospital after he was finally diagnosed, he was in a terrible state. He was paralysed down the right side of his body, was pale, eyes sunken and had lost a lot of weight.
To rub salt in the wound he was informed that the infectious disease ward where he was being treated only had three days left of the vital drug he was being given that was keeping him alive. Family and friends were alerted and a desperate search started around Buenos Aries in hospitals, pharmacies and any contacts that people had to locate it. Luckily a sufficient amount of the drug was found in another hospital.
To make matters worse, there wasn’t sufficient support in the hospital for him during the evenings. He couldn’t walk or wash by himself so we (his friends) had to take turns at staying the night with him. Not such a problem for us, but an indication of how badly resourced the healthcare system is.
It’s strange because it just seems to be the way of life here. There doesn’t seem to be a lot that people can do so they put up with it and get on with their lives. The people even know about the corruption but still vote for those at the centre of it all. I’m fascinated by this place. I’ve been living here for almost a year now and I still can’t make sense of it all. Maybe I never will.