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Amnesty International has released a new report titled "Tiedän etten saa apua" (I know I won't receive help), shedding light on the significant disparities in healthcare and the lack of equal access to healthcare services in Finland. Despite international human rights bodies criticizing Finland for deficiencies in healthcare, the country has failed to ensure sufficient funding and accessibility to primary healthcare, according to the report.

Based on extensive background research and 117 interviews, the report explores the perspectives of patients, healthcare workers, and experts, unveiling the fragmented state of public healthcare in Finland. Access to healthcare is contingent upon factors such as employment status and financial resources, with employed individuals benefiting from occupational healthcare and affluent individuals having the option to seek private healthcare services. On the other hand, those with limited means, often facing health issues, rely solely on the public healthcare system.

Amnesty International's Mariko Sato, an economic and social rights expert, highlights the existence of a two-tiered healthcare system in Finland, contributing to healthcare inequality. Parallel service systems are identified as one of the underlying reasons for this disparity, further exacerbating the situation.

Patients relying on public healthcare services shared their experiences of barriers encountered when seeking medical assistance. Difficulties include challenges in securing appointments, unanswered calls, excessively long waiting times, and the rapid digitalization during the COVID-19 pandemic, which poses various challenges for individuals. These obstacles to healthcare perpetuate health disparities and feelings of exclusion and distrust toward society.

Finland has witnessed cuts in healthcare funding since the early 1990s. Although there have been intermittent increases in healthcare funding, the growth has been slow compared to other Nordic countries. Inadequate funding and austerity measures have contributed to a chronic shortage of resources and healthcare professionals within the public healthcare system, resulting in potential delays or denial of necessary treatments.

To compensate for funding gaps, user fees have been introduced. Most public healthcare services are subject to user fees, and in nearly all well-being regions, these fees are at their highest legal limit. In 2022, nearly half a million healthcare user fees ended up in debt collection.

Amnesty International views the right to healthcare as a fundamental human right. According to human rights norms, states have an obligation to ensure the highest attainable standard of health for all individuals and provide healthcare services without discrimination.

Amnesty urges Finland's future government to strengthen primary healthcare, ensuring equitable access to affordable healthcare services for all. The organization emphasizes the need for improved resource allocation in healthcare, rather than further cuts.

Amnesty International's report sheds light on the disparities and challenges within Finland's healthcare system, emphasizing the urgent need for action. The call to strengthen primary healthcare, eliminate discrimination in access to healthcare, and prioritize adequate funding resonates with the aim of achieving universal and equitable healthcare for all individuals in Finland.

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