By Mayara Floss
“I am standing by the shore of a swiftly flowing river and hear the cry of a drowning man. I jump into the cold waters. I fight against the strong current and force my way to the struggling man. I hold on hard and gradually pull him to shore. I lay him out on the bank and revive him with artificial respiration. Just when he begins to breathe, I hear another cry for help. I jump into the cold waters. I fight against the strong current, and swim forcefully to the struggling woman. I grab hold and gradually pull her to shore. I lift her out onto the bank beside the man and work to revive her with artificial respiration. Just when she begins to breathe, I hear another cry for help. I jump into the cold waters. Fighting again against the strong current, I force my way to the struggling man. I am getting tired, so with great effort I eventually pull him to shore. I lay him out on the bank and try to revive him with artificial respiration. Just when he begins to breathe, I hear another cry for help. Near exhaustion, it occurs to me that I'm so busy jumping in, pulling them to shore, applying artificial respiration that I have no time to see who is upstream pushing them all in....” (Adapted from a story told by Irving Zola as cited in McKinlay, John B. "A case for refocusing upstream: The political economy of illness." In Conrad and Kern, 2nd edition, 1986, The Sociology of Health and Illness: Critical Perspectives. pp. 484-498.)
I was in another busy day of consultations. Patient after patient history behind history, day after day. I started to talk with my first patient in the morning. A paediatric patient with a history of a digestive malfunction and to avoid having to perform surgery again he needed adequate food, rich in fiber and that would ensure that it defecasse frequently. In consultation you do all these explanations about eating well and guidelines. I stopped, looked to the mother and ask, "are you able to buy fruit?". She shyly shakes her head "no". I gently stopped all the medical stuff and history taking, and we started talking.
Pained history. They live in the rural zone without electricity, work hard, earn little. A lot love in the child care, even milk chocolate all day they give to children - the little transgression that financial narrowing allows. But fruits and vegetables they have tried to plant several times, papaya, carrot, apple and all. However, ants did subsequent attacks to the production.
Also, "go to town to buy fruit?". No way, the city only once every two weeks. She says that the child love bananas, they buy a bunch of bananas once every two weeks for him to eat. No fridge neither electricity so food is difficult to store - she tells me. This bunch of bananas is the fruit, fiber, and possibility of care.
The child is not well, it is not defecating much as it should. The mother knows and tells me resolutely: "Blame ants” and unties to speak that they will destroy the ants now, they will win the ants - the desire to be more than the ants. And after that they will plant papaya, mango, all fruits of the fruit bowl. I look at her and gives me a pain in the chest, a desire to cry. But she is strong and console me: "I know that is tough and he has to eat well, we do what we can." The plan is to exterminate the ants. For now they have found out where the nest is.
I'll be back to talk to my preceptor, "the orientation of the fruit will not works ..." – I said. We opted for a medication that helps the child to defecate, and he will return more frequently - and we covered the sun with a sieve. But what medicine can do about ants?
It's like the parable of the river, people appearing downstream, here are like ants. But the fault is not of the ants. The fault is the lack of access to adequate food, electricity, sanitation, and all the blame, my dear, is far beyond the ants - it is an economic guilt, political and social. It is a struggle of the blame for human rights and lack of access to basic rights such as food quality.
But while we can not solve the major faults, I awaiting the return and the outcome of the ants.
Link to the original one (in Portuguese): http://balsa10.blogspot.com.br/2016/03/a-culpa-e-das-formigas.html