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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

US Health-Care needs more 'care' for the Poor

My early education taught me that communism is a sin, socialism an error, and capitalism the absolute and righteous way. After all, I was the underling of capitalism, and Calvinism; doing my best to learn how to ‘pull myself up by the bootstraps’; an African in a dog eat dog globalised world where the quality of bootstraps you pull is determined by Bretton-Woods; so watch out they might be too thin or worn and just might snap so what do you pull then? But ofcourse, there is much to learn from communism and marxism just like there is some we can learn from capitalism. For my fellow Christians, none of these 'isms' dropped out of heaven, they were just plain man-made (pardon my sexist language...)to meet man's needs, depending on what needs had to be met at the time.

Anyway, living in America for a spell shook me out of my system, one thing I was so scared of was getting sick, I had health insurance but still, what if? What a beautiful land when you have money, social security and insurance. What a frightful land when you can tell by people’s teeth who can’t afford basic dental care, by the plethora of tv shows that glamorize the medical field. I remember thinking to myself in those early days, ‘I’m told Africa is poor (there goes the monolithic view of Africa) but this is a different kind of poverty, at least back home I could walk into a hospital at the drop of a hat and have the option of ponying up some money if need be!’ Interestingly, public hospitals in Malawi offer better expertise than private clinics and hospitals. Of course there doctor-patient ratio is too high, and there is this and that problem, but the basics are there, for everyone.

On to the topic at hand; reading Obama’s ‘Dreams from my Father’; it was refreshing to read the conversation he had with a British medical doctor working in Malawi at the time. This doctor talked about the challenges doctors faced in public hospitals where they had to rely on basic necessities. But that’s precisely the point; at least there were basic necessities. A guarantee that someone will attend to you when you need medical/dental help and not ask for proof of your medical insurance first. A guarantee that you won’t have to wait for your sitch to be an emergency before someone helps you at the hospital. Where nurses don’t have to wear colorful uniforms; they just attend to your child’s mumps just because they are committed to that. It seems now that basic necessities are too much to ask for in the proposed health plan.

Here is a question to the big shots behind the medical machinery in this globalised world and to my fellow Christians that believe any solution proposed not borne out of capitalism is total depravity: On which side of the fence does the Hippocratic Oath most fit?

Hippocratic Oath (from Original Greek)

…………….according to my ability and judgement, I will keep this Oath and this contract:

……………..will benefit my patients according to my greatest ability and judgement, and I will do no harm or injustice to them.

Into whatever homes I go, I will enter them for the benefit of the sick, avoiding any voluntary act of impropriety or corruption……………………….

So long as I maintain this Oath faithfully and without corruption, may it be granted to me to partake of life fully and the practice of my art, gaining the respect of all men for all time. However, should I transgress this Oath and violate it, may the opposite be my fate.

Translated by Michael North, National Library of Medicine, 2002

pic: (the greed of capitalism)

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