Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Dead or Alive:What happens When money decides for the poverty stricken Community

This question has always lingered in my mind for some time now and today I just wanted to take couple of minutes to answer myself and those who have been asking themselves the same question for quite a while, but before I answer it I want to give you a scenario that will help you and me understand it better...

Scenario 1

Mary is a widow living in a Village in the West of Mount Kilimanjaro known as Ngarenairobi, Few years ago Mary lost her son and husband in a car accident, an incident that left her all alone. One morning Mary wakes up feeling tired with severe headache. Mary decides to go to a local hospital where she checks for Malaria and other disease but told that she had none. She was give couple of pain killers to take and told that she must drink a lot of water and take a nap. Mary went home and did exactly what the physician told her. For three days she continued feeling the same headache; however she continued taking the pain killers and water thinking it will only be a matter of time and it will stop, but the results weren’t good. She went back to the hospital again to be told that there was nothing wrong with her she was okay. She was given another dose and told that she should rest. One morning Mary woke up with severe headache, she tried to get up and walk outside, however that couldn’t happen because before she could see the sunshine, unable to breath she collapsed and fell unconscious. Thank goodness a kind neighbour saw her fell and she yelled for help from the other close by neighbours. Quickly they got her on a tuck tuck and rushed her to a nearby hospital, she was admitted and attended to, however the hospital lacking enough equipment and speciality, they were unable to unable to identify what was wrong with her, however with the close opportunity they had they wrote a referral letter to the regional hospital. Did Mary have the money to transport herself to the regional hospital? Mmmmmm... No she didn’t. A kind neighbour decided that she could help her get to the hospital. So the next day they get on a daladala and head out to the regional hospital, she was admitted for further checkups, the kind neighbour still offering her assistance with the payments. In the middle of the night Mary is awoken by a severe headache, not only that but she realizes that one side of her body isn’t functioning properly. The doctor’s realize that she might need a CT Scan to check if there is any problem in her brain, however the hospital doesn’t have the service so they refer her to a private hospital. The good neighbour herself has run out of money, she only has the transport to get them home, and that’s exactly what they do, hoping that once they get home someone might be willing to help, however once they arrive home no one was ready to help as all members of the family live in the same poverty stricken line. While days are passing by and no money could be found, it was a matter of weeks Mary was stricken by stroke, the other minute we heard she is dead.

After reading the above scenario, do you think Mary deserved to die? Do you think the government should have intervened? What opportunities do you think Mary would have had? Bearing in mind the CT Scan was available elsewhere but too for her to afford. Do you think that if she had gotten the CT Scan maybe that might have identified the problem and saved her life? What do you think would have happened if Mary had gotten the chance?

While the questions above are still to be answered, let’s go to scenario 2

Adrian is a local Matatu Driver, he has three kids and a wife who needs to be provided with shelter, food, clothing, security, health care etc, and on top of that he has rent to pay, water bills, electricity, school fees and so on. Adrian can do all this things with the day wage he earns from his matatu job. He is always leaving home early before anyone is up, and he is back late while everyone else is already asleep. The only person who gets to see him quite often is his wife because she hears him when he walks into the bedroom. The only time he gets to see his lovely kids and spend time with his wife is only on Sundays, and by the looks of it you can tell this is not enough time for the family, but what can he do when he needs to ensure all his family needs are met! He is always on the run. One Monday morning Adrian wakes up feeling a tommy ache, he decides to skip work and visit a doctor. He checks in a local nearby district hospital, he is given couple of drugs to take, pain eases up and he gets back to work. After one week he feels it again and once again he goes to see the doctor and he is given more drugs, and so on it goes. After another two weeks the same pain returns, this time very severe, his wife takes him to the hospital, they tell him that he needs to go to a higher institution for further in depth tests. He goes back home, tries to bear with the pain for another two days trying to source some money to go to the hospital. He gets a chance to get to the hospital, but because of the condition he is in, he is admitted and told that he has to go for further checkups. Adrian stays at the hospital on pain killers while his wife tries to sort out the family matters, bring him food, and looking for support and money for tests. Relatives try their best, but they have a long way to go before he can have his tests. He stayed at the hospital for two weeks without any tests or results, doctors pass by him, I mean no one has paid for his treatment right. One night his condition gets worse, he passes out, the next morning his wife gets the news he’s dead. Adrian left a wife with three kids to look after, rent to be paid, school fees piling up, groceries to be bought, clothes etc, this was now his wife’s responsibility from now on.

Now, my question is, did Adrian really deserve to die? Couldn’t there be any help for him? I mean, what about if he had gotten those tests, don’t you think he would at least have had an opportunity to breathe another day? Don’t you think his children would like to see his smile once again? Lots of questions run in our minds, but what can we make out all of this!

After reading both scenarios, wouldn’t you think that both Mary and Adrian deserved a chance to life? I bet they did, but what went wrong! Oo, wait a minute; they both didn’t have money to give them access to the right treatments. At my point of view, both Mary and Adrian would have made it, if they had gotten the opportunity. They would still be alive today. The above two scenarios might not be really, but what I’ve tried to illustrate in them is happening today, and it’s happening right now as you read this article. People who don’t deserve to die, are dying, you know why! Not because they can’t be treated, but because they can’t afford it. And what I write here is true, not because I only hear it or know it, but because I was raised in it and witnessed it.

A large body of evidence confirms that many people coming from poverty stricken background go without health care from which they could benefit greatly and most do not have access to drugs they urgently need. Often they unaffordable. The poor in such country as ours are even less likely than the better off to receive effective health care. There is ample evidence confirming that access to effective health care is a major problem in the developing world. Many millions of people suffer and die from conditions for which there exist effective interventions.

To most, money has become the deciding power to who should live and who should die, you haven’t got the money, you haven’t got another minute to breath. This is the world were living in, yet I keep hearing people talking about equal opportunity to all. Trust me, I don’t see it happening. Poor people are still dying, not because they can’t be treated, but because they can’t afford the right kind of treatment. Well, maybe money is the only way to downsizing the population who knows what the theory holds!

A private hospital has a machine that government hospitals don’t have, what are we paying our taxes for? When you need a certain test, you are referred to private institution, what are we paying our taxes for? I don’t blame private institutions; I can only blame the government for not ensuring that everyone gets an equal opportunity to the services we pay for. I know it’s not an easy task to run a hospital without funds, but at other times have a sense of humanity. It really pains me to see someone die while they could have had an opportunity to live another 20 years or something.

The government is supposed to ensure equal opportunity and stick up for the weak, not send them to where they don’t stand a chance. A high percent of us out here can only afford public services, but we can’t stand a chance when public services that were meant to be of high standard and dignity are failing us. This is the truth and it has to be said.

"Higher income people are in a better position to take advantage of the health care system," said David Radley, senior scientist at the Commonwealth Fund.

Well, after all that been said, we can all conclude that money runs everything, and if you haven’t got it, that’s your own problem. Lives that could have been preserved will continue to vanish no matter what until the day the government wakes up and realizes it needs more than just an effort to save lives. If a private institution can afford a certain machine, why can’t the government do so? Not all of us can afford living in the private world. Let’s have a sense of humanity. The government should look for ways to create better health opportunities for the poor, this way we can save lives that are contributing to the economic growth.

I would like to take a moment to thank all individuals and organisations out there who are giving the poor an opportunity to access better health care, bearing my friend Gayle (mama G) and all other members from Hope Ministries in mind and prayer, thank you guys for the amazing work you do, I pray that the Lord continues to shine that light of blessing upon you. My word of prayer goes out to all those who are passing through these kinds of struggles, may the almighty God continue to open doors of opportunities and healing to you. 

And to all the rest of us, let us continue seeking ways to preserve humanity. Let’s live our lives with kind gestures. Let’s not make money the key to deciding who should live and who shouldn’t. And to the government my advice is that we should look for ways to really develop a system that supports equal opportunity to all. Money should not the deciding power to life opportunities. Everyone of us has the right to live, and there should be an equal opportunity to that right. This is my opinion for today.

Chaow chaow!

Rumishael Ulomi is a Freelance Christian Consultant, Life Coach, and Motivational Speaker in the areas of Christian Ministry, Business, Entrepreneurship, and Social Sector development residing in Moshi,Tanzania.


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