If you haven’t read this week’s Atlanta Business Chronicle, there was an excellent opinion editorial submitted by A.B. Short, and it was published in this week’s edition. You can read the article below and give us your feedback!
HEALTHCARE: WE HAVE IT GOOD
The current debate around health care reform in recent weeks has caused me to reflect on global health issues. While significant reform is needed to strengthen and sustain the health care system in the United States, it is striking to compare what we have with what is– or rather is not– available to many around the world who for no other reason than that of birth live in abject poverty with little or no access to medical care.
Almost half of the world’s population, or over three billion people, live on less than $2.50 per day, and 10 million children under the age of five die each year due to inadequate healthcare. In my work supplying medical aid abroad, I’ve visited many countries where people suffer from rampant infectious diseases such as AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and even basic ailments can escalate into life-threatening medical problems due to insufficient access to medical care and the lack of supplies and equipment.
In the developing world, it is common for patients to be told to go elsewhere and buy the medical supplies needed to treat them, because the supplies are unavailable in the hospital. In a country like Tanzania, where 12.5% of the population is infected with HIV/AIDS, many doctors and medical professionals do not have access to basic protective items like gloves and masks. There are hospitals where patients sleep three to a bed because there is such a limited supply and high demand. In Sudan and other parts of Africa, straw is used as a substitute for gauze.
A nurse from Honduras who recently visited our facility was elated to find that we have a huge supply of special scissors used to cut casts. She and her colleagues had been using knives to saw open the casts and having to peel them open with their hands. There are numerous times a medical professional returning from work overseas tells me: “if I’d only had ‘this clamp’, ‘that specialty instrument,’ or some other supply, I could have made a difference in a life.”
Let’s face it. If these types of conditions regularly occurred in the U.S., individuals would be on the phone to their attorneys demanding law suits for compensation. Our elected officials would be deluged by calls from their constituents insisting upon change. We have our share of problems, and it is a shame that through the inherent inequity created by our economic system there exists such a chasm between those who have or can afford coverage and those who don’t or can’t.
I’m not interested in making a political statement about health care reform, but wish to encourage people to take a moment to reflect on how good we have it compared to billions throughout the developing world, and not to turn a blind eye on others’ needs as we tend to our own.