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May 17, 2022

Corruption and blackmail

National Defence, Health and Education are considered everywhere as the main strategic sectors for the existence of any modern state. With National Defence being a closely guarded secret, not much is known about it. However, the main reasons for optimism are the fact that we belong to NATO and have a strategic partnership with the USA. As for the other two strategic sectors, things are so bad that they might even have a negative impact upon National Defence. When the health and education of a community are at risk, there is no need for an armed attack from abroad to make the respective community collapse. Unfortunately, it is precisely this reality that threatens Romania today.

The so-called education system of the country is eroded by so many serious contradictions that its very systemic character is about to disappear. Anyone knows that the system is defined as a mechanism of elements which interact with each other and form a unitary structure. But the very interaction and homogenous character of the components specific to Education are fading away. A conclusive demonstration of this idea is represented by the new street protests recently initiated by teachers, when the government announced that salaries of state employees will not return to normal in 2012, although this is stipulated by law and many court orders.

Romanians know that a school year cannot go as planned if teachers protest, instead of being in classrooms. The quality of education is seriously hampered by formalism and improvisation. It is true that transferring schools under the control of local administrations can stop the protests, because some mayors threaten to sack any “disobedient” teacher. But these dictatorial decisions only fuel the unrest, because they are often accompanied by corruption and a discretionary attitude. As the exam for hiring new teachers no longer has a national character and is often organised by local authorities, corruption and nepotism have made their way into the procedures, with the most severe effects. When asked by the media about these despicable practices, the rulers “defend themselves” by evoking “the many faces of reality.” As they say, things are not the same everywhere, which indeed is true, so one should not stick to the old centralised standards. But it is precisely this multitude of situations which proves that the chaotic decentralisation of the education system diminished, and risks to completely negate the homogenous and interactive character that define the system. In other words, decentralising Education under the effect of politicians’ chaotic and demagogical decisions will deprive school of its organic character and will register as many quality levels as local administrations. Even the national character of Education, which defines the identity of any modern state, succumbs under the pressure of corruption and arbitrary measures.

As an evil chance never comes alone, this has an unavoidable correlation in the Health sector, because – in our country – negative aspects stimulate each other and form a single, larger evil. The unrest of teachers has an equivalent among the personnel of the Health system, because of the same reasons: chaotic decentralisation and the minimisation – down to complete disappearance – of professional incentives. This explains why both Education and Health have a deficit of highly trained specialists to honour the brilliant professional traditions of our nation, beyond dispute in these two fields of activity. The youths that still choose to work in schools and hospitals have much trouble to pay the fees charged by universities, and those coming from rural regions have very small chances to succeed.

An effect of these issues is the deficit of education and health personnel manifest especially in rural areas, but also in urban localities. This made Romania occupy a painful top position in the EU, in terms of illiteracy, but also of the incidence and severity of diseases, mainly among children and old people. Romania often makes the headlines with its very high child mortality. Each year, approximately 2,500 babies die before reaching the age of one. As they are getting old, Romanians suffer with cardiovascular diseases, pneumonia, kidney illnesses, diabetes or cancer. 60,000 people die each year from cancer in Romania, because they lack an adequate treatment. Meanwhile, the emigration of doctors and nurses is by far the highest in Europe. In such conditions, how will we get through the upcoming flu epidemics medical experts warned about?

The answer to this question is already obvious, with physicians having trouble to choose whom to give the few doses of flu vaccine they received this year. In some cases, family physicians receive as little as 20 doses, for their hundreds, even thousands of patients. Following the criminal closure of many hospitals in Romania, the Targu Mures Emergency Hospital is the only medical unit that can still receive children suffering from heart diseases, but even here surgeons cannot operate, because of insufficient funds, so these children must wait many days before the life-saving surgery. And this is just the beginning. In 2012, the Romanian state will discontinue many free medical services. The spending cuts ordered by the IMF and World Bank have a strong negative impact precisely on the Health and Education sectors. Meanwhile, the corruption of our rulers goes on. These days, the DNA is probing several mayors belonging to the parties of the ruling coalition, which are accused of corruption deeds. And corruption might be suspected also in the case of the acting minister of Health, who organised an unusual contest for the position of manager of the most important hospital of Oradea, with his son as sole candidate (all the other candidates were discreetly advised to “withdraw”). Asked by journalists about the professional merits of his son, the minister – a member of UDMR – explained the success through the fact that his son was the chief of cabinet of the previous Health minister, also from UDMR – a party of the ruling coalition. A ruling coalition which proves the principle that “dog does not eat dog.”

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