A lot of times, I hear certain people say that they would never want to be political. They abhor political discourses even if the issue at hand affects them. But of course, they would definitely welcome the benefits when issues are won.

The essence of politics is decision-making. When you say you would rather be apolitical, then that means you are making others decide for you. You lose control over your own life. This is very dis-empowering.

Doctors have duties to their patients. They make decisions for and with their patients. Most of the patients are in a social context where they face injustice and lack access to health care. For example, a patient with a Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, who lives close to a coal-fired power plant, may desire to transfer residence in order to reduce the frequency of his hospitalization but may have no means. Unfortunately, for this patient, the company that either causes or exacerbates his condition, does not cover the cost of his health care. This is the patient’s burden. Obviously, a situation like this one is a problem of a societal system that this patient did not decide on yet affects the individual and the community.

The disease condition causes suffering. This is even worse when the patient cannot access the government services fully. In the Philippines, tokenism has nurtured patronage politics. Politicians have attached a political brand to the health services.

There are some extraordinary doctors who make political decisions to fight injustices. These doctors see the social dimension of the sufferings of the patients. Dr. Paul Farmer did mention pragmatic solidarity, the intent of which is to reduce suffering. But then the work does not stop there. Doctors should be agents of change and help address the injustices around them. To be able to do this, doctors should understand and live by the social justice principle.

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