Wednesday, 30 May 2018

In the rescue of health leaders and health guides

Salvador Casado

In the area of public health, where I have been working for a long time, we have suffered a profound crisis of leadership. Although all positions of responsibility are well filled and more and more management positions are being designed, paradoxically it is rare to find managers or professionals who lead teams towards specific objectives or missions that open new paths.

The usual path is the protocol, not to get out of the established, to avoid changes and innovation and not to leave the office or the consultation to skip hazards.

This attitude in management staff is being imitated by ordinary professionals who follow their instructions. The overload of care and institutional neglect cause family doctors to barely leave their offices to implement some community activities, nurses and social workers the same and in hospitals everything is considered within the service interacting as little as possible with primary care services or other agents.

The problem with focusing on the "protocol" is that the social function of guidance is lost. Health professionals, in addition to their health care obligations, must also be agents of health education and health counselling, functions that are becoming less and less attended to and are being taken over by commercial interests with a high profit motive. This implies having some degree of public presence, in the community where they work, in the media, on the Internet or in social networks. It means taking an interest in the spread and dissemination of quality health content. For encouraging reflection and awareness. For promoting self-care and self-management of health and illness.

We need leaders who are at the forefront, who dare to break new ways from an attitude of service and the search for the common good. But above all, we need guides who are able to guide and encourage both colleagues and patients in their small areas of activity, from a nursing, social work, psychology, physiotherapy or medicine consultation.

There is no need for great heroics, just publish a blog or an article in a local newspaper, write a letter to the editor or talk on the radio in the neighborhood. Include some health message in our social networks, go once a year to a school or public place to give a lecture. Weaving community networks within the profession or in the area where they work.... Leave the office or practice.

It is unacceptable that many managers do not know their subordinates personally and vice versa. That hospital professionals do not treat each other at all with primary care professionals, that primary care professionals do not know community pharmacists, mayors or members with any social role in their community. So is the fact that when searching for information on the Internet, it is very rare to find quality content from independent, non-sponsored health professionals.

Our society follows the health discourses of celebrities and fools without criteria that are raised by televisions and media that give them notoriety and visibility. In this way, it walks without direction, following the dictates of a market that has no scruples when it comes to selling products and services that it advertises as a universal panacea for a good amount of cash.

It gives me hope to meet many health professionals who perform this guiding function in a quiet and constant way. Good people who seek the good of the people they work with, the benefit of their communities, social improvement. Professionals who have to struggle with great workloads and diverse institutional problems and who resist the difficulty and still feel like innovating or sharing a paper or a talk. It is true that there is often no recognition within the organisations where they work or at other levels, but this is not preventing brave people from continuing to carry this old torch.

It is possible. From this certainty I launch this small appeal to make visible, thank and encourage the good work of so many people who leave their faces in the world of health.

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