Free vaccine, free medical services, free schools, free social assistance, free roads and playgrounds, help for the heating season. But how free are they, what are the costs, who pays for them, and how much do we invest to explain solidarity?
Moldova has had the vaccine available for more than half a year, offered for free, but the number of people who have been vaccinated has barely reached 30% of the population. Why don’t people get vaccinated, if it’s a remedy that can save their lives, prolong their lives and it’s free? One answer might be that they think it can shorten their lives, or that they are afraid of it being for free.
I remember at the beginning of 2021 when in some countries the vaccine against COVID-19 had already appeared, but in Moldova, it was not yet known when and if it would arrive, several people were discussing that they would like to pay to get their vaccine because they work, they have a salary and from the money they receive they want to build a safe life. The debates then turned to social solidarity: if everyone is at risk of getting COVID-19, then everyone should have access to the vaccine, including those without money.
Well, as soon as the vaccine appeared in our country, we witnessed a criminal and hilarious situation, when the heads of districts and other officials were vaccinated by abuse, ahead of the medical workers who were, justifiably, first on the list. This is because bosses know that they must be the first to benefit from what is free and accessible to everyone.
In parallel, because the waiting lines were huge, thousands of people (maybe tens of thousands, although, unfortunately, we did not see an official figure) set off for Romania, to be vaccinated there, as Romanian citizens. Although the vaccine was given to them for free, the repeated trip to the vaccination center is really expensive (car, gasoline, green card). But there was no discussion about compensating for these expenses, the only offer being to wait for the free vaccine to be available at the center next to their house.
Vaccines have been available everywhere in Moldova for months, there are no more lines, it’s free, but 70% of citizens are reluctant and in no hurry. Moreover, there are tourist routes with groups coming from Russia to be vaccinated with European vaccines, in order to obtain a green certificate for the EU. Instead, many locals not only hesitate to administer their European vaccine for free, they prefer to pay 200 euros and more to get a fake certificate. They certainly have some fears, which have been induced in them.
Access to information seems to be absolutely free: those who have a TV can button on any channel they want for free; those who have a computer or a mobile phone with internet access can visit infinite sources of information, for free. But is the information really free? How much is spent on informing people about corruption and violations? But how much does the information that lies and manipulates people cost?
Let’s move on to the cost of gas. Now people have pipes for free, but gas is getting more expensive. The government will, from everyone’s money, provide compensation. But how will those who do not use gas for heating be helped? Solar batteries? Geothermal probes?
Probes and batteries are the most expensive, but they also seem to be the most efficient. These people have invested, now they do not pollute, they do not create dependence on Russian gas, they do not cut trees, they do not burn coal. Shouldn’t their investments and ecological behavior be offset? Isn’t it appropriate to discuss solidarity payments in relation to these people? It is probably not even known how many households use solar and thermal energy in Moldova.
But let’s go back to the vaccine, the medical system and the gratuities there. The other day Singapore decided not to provide free medical care to those who decided, without medical contraindications, not to get vaccinated. That is, medical care will definitely be available, but for a fee. Of course, a wave of discussions about human rights, about the responsibility of the state, about Hippocrates’ oath, about the lack of empathy, was instantly launched.
The issue of compensation and gratuities is very complex. In this country, people were robbed a lot and compensated a little. Those who stole them were not punished for abuse. Sometimes people were offered more, but it was not actually explained how much it cost. Or, the treatment of COVID is free, although, in fact, it is among the most expensive medical treatments, if we put together not only the number of days of hospitalization and the de facto costs but also the cost of human lives and the cost of professional effort of medical workers.
There is nothing for free. Maybe solidarity is free, but it costs money to explain. All the more solidarity education costs and because of that, it is left for another time. This is how we have an even more unequal society, in which it seems people think that rights and gratuities prevail, and others believe that obligations prevail and you have to pay for everything. It is time for a pandemic of explaining and educating solidarity.