For many Buentoillitants the Municipal Health Service (or MHS) is the primary focus of their civic pride, and today’s festival sets out to recognise this fact. The MHS is there for Buentoillitants from birth until death, providing the best healthcare in all the Seven Cities whilst remaining entirely free at the point of use. The service has gone through hard times in the City’s recent history, but for over eighty years it has been saving millions of lives, progressing from strength to strength. Today, the day which marks the 96th year since the opening of the Central Municipal Hospital (the first purpose-built MHS facility) the people of Buentoille give thanks to those who run the service, as well as those who first founded it.
Before the Revolution at the beginning of last century, healthcare in Buentoille was in a dire state. At the end of the seventeenth century the Union of Healthcare Professionals had devised a pseudo-municipal health service, available to all those who purchased the Union’s medical insurance. Yet this service was not available to the poorest Buentoillitants who couldn’t afford it, and it suffered from chronic underfunding which contributed to the ‘poaching’ of doctors by private healthcare organisations. Worse still, the Union was eventually broken up by parliament in an attempt to curry favour with the Seven Cities Trading Company in the early nineteenth century, leaving many ill Buentoillitants without hope of medical attention except by taking on massive debt.
After the Revolution of 1905 things began to look up, when the people voted to institute a single, publicly-owned healthcare institution and outlawed private healthcare providers. Wealthy Buentoillitants who complained were encouraged to make anonymous donations to the newly formed MHS if they wanted an improvement in their treatment, but whilst bribing doctors to perform private treatments was illegal, it wasn’t unheard of. Charitable organisations such as the Orderlies of Good Health and League of Disabled Buentoillitants were invited to join the MHS in a not-for-profit function, retaining some of their independence in return for their expertise and help, whereas private doctors could only retain their licenses if they joined up. Today the Orderlies still exist, providing additional, emergency on-site healthcare services at potentially dangerous festivals for a modest fee to the organisers.
Whilst thousands of new doctors and nurses were trained up in the years after the Revolution, and the poorest Buentoillitants had access to healthcare for the first time in their lives, clinical outcomes were poor and many more complex conditions went untreated because of a lack of medical equipment and materials. This was primarily down to the trade embargo levelled at the City by the Seven Cities Trading Company as punishment for the Revolution, although some also blamed the City’s historical lack of health research and manufacturing. Through a massive injection of funding into these areas, and through the eventual procurement of alternate trade routes, things slowly began to change. Even today, health research is awarded over seventy percent of the municipal research budget, a fact responsible for Buentoille having the most advanced medical science in the Inner Sea region, where Buentoille is also the primary exporter of medical equipment and supplies.
Today the fruits of many research projects conducted over the last year will be shown off in the Municipal Health Day Parade; new heart scanners, cancer extractors, brain trainers, and surgical equipment will be wheeled along, or held aloft, displayed with glee and pride in the same way that other Cities might show off their weaponry. Yet preventative healthcare is also prized by the City, and exercise classes are provided free of charge to every citizen, alongside sexual health clinics and general advice and counselling services for those who want them. Combined with the low working hours and high quality of life that most Buentoillitants enjoy, incidences of mental health issues have a very low incidence, as do conditions such as diabetes and many heart diseases. Representatives from each element of the MHS will march together in the Parade today, identified by banners designed by the Union of Quilters and Allied Workers.
As well as healthcare workers, lay members of the pubic also participate in the Parade. Dance classes organised by the MHS perform to the crowds as they pass, and thousands of Buentoillitants join a block of marchers known as the Parade of the Undead; a group of patients whose lives have been saved in the last year by the MHS, who would have died before its creation. Members of retirement homes run by the MHS are wheeled along by their carers, smiling and waving at the crowds. Brass bands and drummers dressed in colourful attire are stationed along the parade, which stretches for half a mile and slowly snakes its way about the City, visiting a number of hospitals along the route.
In addition to the Parade, Buentoillitants also send hundreds of thousands of postcards of thanks to their local hospitals and clinics today. These are arranged on boards throughout the hallways and lobbies of these venerated buildings, and it is clear that Buentoillitants love and care for the MHS just as much as it cares for them.
Other festivals happening today:
- Efficiency is Everything – The League of Merchant’s Private Healthcare Advocacy Day
- The Festival of the Luminarious Balloon
- You Are Not Alone: A Festival of Quiet Sadness