health

Facing possible austerity and a return to neoliberalism at the hands of a right-wing parliament, will the millions involved in Venezuela's Bolivarian revolution that has cut poverty and empowered the poor radicalise further and protect their 15 years of gains? Or will this be the blow that finally dampens their revolutionary joy and collective ambition?

In the aftermath of Venezuela's right-wing US-backed opposition securing its electoral win over President Nicolas Maduro's United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) in the December 6 National Assembly elections, the South American country is heading for two confrontations, each reinforcing the other — a political and an economic one. The future is very uncertain.

The Turnbull government recently decided to cut bulk-billing incentives to pathology services. This will result in pathology labs charging for basic tests including pap smears, MRIs, urine tests, blood tests, x-rays and ultrasounds. The cuts will force patients to pay at least $30 for a pap smear, urine or blood test and up to $173 for an MRI scan.

These cuts are unfair to all, but will especially hurt women. Free and accessible pathology tests are key to ensuring early detection of cervical cancer, STIs (sexually transmitted diseases), UTIs (urinary tract infections) and pregnancy.

What was the central message of the December 20 Spanish general elections, which was “won” by the governing conservative People's Party (PP) of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy with only 28.72% of the vote, 3.6 million votes less than the last national poll in 2011?

Why did the opposition Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) greet its worst ever result —22.01%, 1.4 million votes less than 2011 — with a sigh of relief?


The dam took just half-an-hour to entomb half the village of Bento Rodrigues in 18 metres of iron-ore tailings, reddish mud and water slurry.

A “mountain tsunami” is how firefighters in Mariana, in Minas Gerais in south-eastern Brazil, described the bursting of mining company Samarco Santarem’s iron-ore tailings dam on November 5.

Marcos de Eufrasio, a 38-year-old stonemason who was cutting rock on that sunny afternoon, said that, from nowhere, he heard a “mighty roar”.

The right wing's attacks on women's access to abortion once again turned deadly on November 27.

Colorado Spring police arrested Robert Dear six hours after he entered a Planned Parenthood facility wielding an AK-47 rifle. By then, he had murdered three people and wounded nine.


Hondurans receive care from Cuban doctors. Photo: Cuban Medical Brigade.

Cuban doctors have served more than 29 million Hondurans and saved at least 250,000 Honduran lives over the past 17 years, local media in the Central American nation said.

Health services are under serious attack in WA, with the Health Department asking hospitals to finalise “budget management strategies” by the end of January.

Amid claims of massive cuts to funding, hospitals in Perth are bracing for staff cuts. The Health Services Union (HSU) expects about 500 jobs to be shed at Royal Perth Hospital and similar numbers at Fiona Stanley Hospital. The union says its previous predictions of about 1000 job cuts “across the board” now appeared “conservative” and job uncertainty is causing widespread stress.


Union-organised demonstration outside Portugal's parliament on November 10.

A coalition of the parties of the Portuguese left — the Socialist Party (PS), the Left Bloc, the Communist Party (PCP) and the Greens (PEV) — won a motion of no-confidence in the parliament on November 10.

The motion brought down the short-lived Portugal Ahead alliance government of the conservative Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the neoliberal Democratic and Social Centre-People's Party (CDS-PP).

Over 100 doctors, nurses and other health professionals gathered outside the Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth on November 13 to support the nationwide mobilisations of health workers against detention of children.

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