There is this man in Romania, who pretty much everyone here has heard of, especially now, but I suspect almost no-one outside of Romania has. His name is Raed Arafat. He is a Palestinian who grew up in Syria (like so many Palestinians to refugee parents), and he came to Romania at the beginning of the 80s to study medicine at the University in Cluj, and then subsequently to the university in Targu Mures to continue his studies. After graduating and going into practice in Tg Mures, and following the revolution he saw the need for a real emergency service. He and a team of volunteers knocked on every door in the city (and I am assured that it was every door, and it's a biggish city) and during a time of great hardship raised enough money in whatever donations people could give - very often very small amounts of money - to start something called SMURD. The story of SMURD is a long and impressive one and it has grown from these very small beginnings to be a vital cog in the otherwise ailing Romanian healthcare system. You can read all about the history of it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMURD
Anyway SMURD eventually became incorporated into the healthcare system, and Arafat became an under-secretary of state for health.
But now a "scandal" (everything in Romania is a scandal) has erupted - Arafat has resigned and left the Ministry because of a new health care law which effectively privatises the ambulance service. Basescu (the president), rather than talking to Arafat - who, I submit, knows a fuck of a lot more about emergency medicine than Basescu - abused him live on TV (via the medium of calling into a chat show), accused him of lying, and the went on about his "leftist views" (in this case not wanting to privatise an essential public service is "leftist", which I suppose it is, in relation to what to me seems like a pretty hard line right wing position - viz the privatisation of an essential public service). Basescu then pretty much told him to resign, which fairly unsurprisingly, Arafat then went ahead and did.
It's a great shame, as he's obviously a deeply committed individual who has done an incredible amount for Romania, and deserves to be heard and not treated like shit by an obnoxious president. I hope SMURD will survive, and I hope the healthcare system survives, but I have my doubts. Basescu and his government seem hell bent on using the excuse of "austerity" to destroy education, healthcare and pretty much everything else that the country actually needs.
You can watch Arafat here giving a speech in happier times through the TED network (in Romanian)