Eleanor Roosevelt – My Day: August 1-7

August 2, 1938

“PATCHOGUE, N.Y., Monday—…I’ve also read all of the report and some of the speeches made at the health conference, which was held at Washington during the third week of July. It seems to me that many points of view were presented but that it was perhaps too big a gathering for real discussion. I hope that before a five or ten year plan is adopted, we will all have our ultimate objectives clearly in mind.

To me there seem to be three main objectives.

First: we must make medical care available to the low income groups of the nation.

Second: we must not retard research. Our ignorance in many fields is only fully realized by those who know the most and for that reason are able to gauge how little they really know.

Third: We must demand that continuous education be available and obligatory for all doctors.

We may find that health insurance partially answers our first objective, but it cannot answer the others. There were speakers at the conference who seemed to feel that some system of insurance could be devised to give adequate medical care to all who need it in this country today. They forget, it seems to me, that health to some extent is a question of the education of every individual.

Also, medical care is no substitute for adequate food of the right kind, decent housing, a fair wage, and the type of education which will make a decent standard of living possible. It is one thing to realize that you need an emergency operation, but it is quite another to be willing to pay even a small amount for preventive care, or to be willing to take the trouble to do the things which will keep a family well.

No one plan goes forward alone and they all require an educated people willing to cooperate for the good of the whole people.”

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