Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Visiting Poland - Better Make Sure You Are Heathly

If Poland is in your vacation plans, make sure you visit your trusted doctor first, stock up on medicine and hope (dare I say, pray) that nothing happens to you, when you are there.

Why? Because faith healing seems to be gaining popularity in that country (full disclosure: I was born there and spent the first 19 years of my life there) and I would not want to be caught sick there, knowing that depending on the doctor you end up with, your therapy might be prayer.

To give you more detail, while the health care is considered to be free and widely available in Poland, the quality is lacking and the availability is restricted by long wait times (months) and extensive restrictions on residency. To top that off, recently, with a strong backing of the very powerful Catholic Church, the doctors there were asked to sign a "Declaration of Faith", which basically gives them a way out of any modern standard of care, based on their "conscience". While signing of this document was voluntary, given the pressure coming from the Church and the local communities, I suspect there will be more and more doctors, who are afraid of performing some controversial procedures, even though they are medically viable and legal under the local law.

While the majority of discussions around this topic were focusing on abortion, it also affects other reproductive rights and many "end-of-life" issues. The problem here is not with anyone's faith, conscience, or anything in between. The problem is with a very personal decision by a someone who should be following scientific knowledge and who is expected to do so in the best interest of a patient. How do we decide where that "freedom of conscience" ends for a given set of beliefs? Is it only abortion, contraception, blood transfusions, separation of men and women in health care, prolonging unnecessary treatments, or refusing some others? Where and how that thin line is drawn? Who makes that decision?

I, for sure, would not want to end up under care of someone who thinks he (or she) knows better, based on their faith and not reason and science. So, if you are going to visit Poland anytime soon, make sure your are healthy, or your best bet might just be to pray (literally).