My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW YORK, Thursday—We had a most interesting discussion in the Human Rights Commission on Wednesday afternoon—one that involved housing and medical care.

The Russian delegates to the United Nations, in general, never fail to seize every opportunity to sing the praises of the way things are done under their particular form of government. And this is characteristic of all delegates representing new governments that are still in a formative period.

Practically everyone else in the world, however, knows that nothing human is perfect. But as one listens to the various lectures on the perfection of government procedure within the borders of the USSR and other states with the same type of government, one realizes that it takes considerable maturity to acknowledge one's own shortcomings and set oneself the difficult task of working in democratic fashion and not through dictatorial edicts to correct mistakes.

Out of this particular discussion on Wednesday came an indictment by the Soviet delegate of the medical system in the United States.

We acknowledge the difficulties experienced by people in the medium-income brackets in meeting medical expenses. An insistence that we are not as advanced as we should be in the care and cure of cancer, tuberculosis and various other diseases, however, was by implication a claim that the Soviet Union is doing better work along these lines than we are.

Because I believe one should always try to learn, I wish very much that, through the World Health Organization, an impartial survey could be made of medical conditions in all parts of the world. Then the best practices found anywhere could be reported to all governments so that all of us could profit by it.

I also would be happy if either through the United Nations or through negotiations between individual governments, groups of experts and statisticians in the various fields of medicine could visit one another's countries on a reciprocal basis. A team, for instance, would go from the United States to Russia and one would come from Russia to the United States. Each group would be granted complete freedom to visit all parts of the country and all types of communities and to examine medical facilities with an understanding that the findings would be used in both countries for the improvement of medical services.

It is, of course, true that under the form of government existing in Communist dictatorships, the government can order certain things that in a democracy the people have to come to believe in and insist upon themselves. One method may be slower than the other, but in the long run the democratic method responds to the will of the people more thoroughly than a government edict could. The education of the people (in democracy) has to precede any innovation or change and a real desire to make a new method work has to be developed before a democratic government will accept it.

E. R.
TMs, AERP, FDRL