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Are there eligible and ineligible lives? Letter to society and public administrators

In a statement aimed at public administrators, as well as society in general, CONIC member churches, CESE and partner institutions have questioned, in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, whether there is such a thing as “eligible and ineligible lives”.

This question was necessary in a context in which the authorities have started discussing a Scoring System and Protocol to identify patients eligible to occupy Intensive Care beds and access respirators in the COVID-19 epidemic.

The document asserts that “without diminishing the function or future need for a Scoring System and Protocol, we understand that there are public health measures that precede the establishment of such a Protocol”, going on to outline a series of activities that could and should be carried out prior to such drastic action.

Read the letter in full:

Are there eligible and ineligible lives?

Letter to society and public administrators

We, member churches of the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil (CONIC) and partner organizations inspired by the faith that guides and provides the foundation for ethical suppositions that guarantee all people the right to a dignified existence, manifest our concern about the possible establishment of a Scoring System and Protocol to identify patients eligible to occupy Intensive Care beds and access respirators in the COVID-19 epidemic.

In this sense, we manifest our support for the statement issued by the Doctors Union of Rio de Janeiro (Sindicato dos Médicos do Rio de Janeiro: SinMed/RJ) entitled “We do not accept choices, we want resources”, which presents issues related to public management that need to be corrected prior to the drafting and definition of a Protocol for eligible and ineligible lives.

Without diminishing the function or future need for a Scoring System and Protocol, we understand that there are public health measures that precede the establishment of such a Protocol.  Priorities include:

  • Speed and guarantee of access to basic emergency income, fundamental to ensure social isolation is possible;
  • An analysis of the possibility of lockdown, if necessary decreeing it;
  • The promotion of educational campaigns regarding the correct use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE);
  • The freeing up of beds in private hospitals to fill the needs of public hospitals;
  • The need for guidance from positive experiences of containing the pandemic in other countries;
  • An intensification of dialogue with the scientific community, ensuring it is an ally in the fight against COVID-19.

The Constitution of the Republic, in Article 5, caput, asserts that “All persons are equal before the law, […] being ensured of inviolability of the right to life, to liberty, to equality, to security and to property […]”. Furthermore, Articles 6 and 196 of the Brazilian Magna Carta consider health to be an inseparable duty of the State and the right of every citizen.

It is not right for the State to delegate the decision of who lives and who dies to health professionals, who are overloaded and tirelessly dedicate themselves to the service and care of their patients.

It is rather the duty of the State to strengthen the Unified Health Service (Sistema Único de Saúde: SUS), which is guided by the principles of universality and equity (Article 2 of Law 8080/1990).

The dilemmas of the pandemic should not be to elect who lives and who dies, nor to balance lives against the economy.  These are false dilemmas.  The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that the investment of public funds in health, social care and economic recovery is an imperative.

As representatives of churches, religious, ecumenical and service organizations, we make ourselves available for dialogue and to expand preventive and awareness-raising campaigns in favour of social isolation and solidarity.

Our prayers are with all health professionals, all those in mourning, who have lost friends and family members to the pandemic and all those who have tested positive for COVID-19, their friends and family.

 

Signed:

National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil/Conselho Nacional de Igrejas Cristãs do Brasil

Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil/Igreja Evangélica de Confissão Luterana no Brasil

Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil/Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil

United Presbyterian Church of Brazil/Igreja Presbiteriana Unida do Brasil

Alliance of Baptists of Brazil /Aliança de Batistas do Brasil

Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch/Igreja Sirian Ortodoxa de Antioquia

Ecumenical Coordination of Service/Coordenadoria Ecumênica de Serviço

Bahá’í Community of Brazil/Comunidade Bahá’í do Brasil

#BedsForAll

#InDefenceofSUS

#LivesHaveNoPrice

 

credit pic: https://medicinasa.com.br/ipsos-pandemia/

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