Over 35,000 Icelanders have signed a petition calling for increased funding for health care in just the past two days.
The petition in question, Endurreisn (“Restoration”), points out that the Icelandic government devotes proportionately far less money to the health care system than other Nordic countries. To rectify this, the petition demands that the government devote at least 11% of public revenue to health care.
“As elected representatives of the people have, for the past 25 years, not funded the health care system as they should of their own accord, we the undersigned are taking the initiative with the aforemented demand,” the petition reads in part.
Started only two days ago, over 35,000 people have already signed it.
Kári Stefánsson, the CEO of deCODE Genetics and the initiator of the petition, told RÚV that for him, the matter is less about funding and more about living in a compassionate society.
“For me, this is certainly a question of how important it is to us that there is compassion in Icelandic society,” he told reporters. “I feel a society should set as one of its goals to provide care and comfort for the injured and sick. I think this should be a top priority.”
As reported last December, Kári penned a column for Fréttablaðið wherein he criticised the lack of priority given to Iceland’s health care system.
Cuts to hospital funding are currently being proposed by the parliamentary Budget Committee. Budget Committee chairperson Vigdís Hauksdóttir has accused Landspítali director Páll Matthíasson of “inflicting psychological violence” on the committee with his pleas for more funding, but Kári contends the fault lies entirely with the Budget Committee themselves.
“For this reason, I want to let the Budget Committee know that if it does not change the budget proposal in such a way that much more money is allocated to Landspítali, myself and some associates will launch a petition of 100,000 signatures that the people never again vote for the parties that comprise this government, because of the coldness and indifference that it shows the sick and injured in our society,” he wrote in part. “The collection of signatures will be an easy task. The people are distressed.”