With the help of entertainers from the NGO 'Le Rire Medecin', HEALTH looks at how laughter is indeed a great medicine and clowning around in a hospital should, sometimes, be welcomed!
It's estimated that half of all children in France are hospitalized at some point before the age of 15.
To help them forget their fears and anxieties while away from home, 'Le Rire Medecin' is a group of trained professionals who have a wealth of experience cheering up children and they can make a tremendous difference during what can be a very traumatic time. HEALTH spends the day with the clowns as it looks at other aspects of the health of our hospitals.
Overall, these are difficult times for hospitals throughout Europe. There's a delicate balancing act between managing spending and meeting patients' needs.
In France the private sector makes up a third of the hospital system and is profitable, thus prompting calls for more of it to be privatized.
The proposals have been met with widespread opposition from doctors and support staff concerned about the loss of autonomy. The biggest fear is that hospitals will turn into businesses run on financial grounds at the expense of patient care.
Given the choice, most people would avoid going into hospital all together, that is now a possibility for patients in Nimes in the South of France. Being treated at home is a cheaper alternative to hospitalization - and often less traumatic, HEALTH visits one family taking advantage of that option.
And finally a look at the controversial issue of stem cell research, another area where the law is set to be overhauled in the coming months. Officially stem cell research is forbidden in France except in some rare cases.
Date created : 2009-06-29