by Jay Janson
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
"Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."
"The UN General Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."
In the New York Times Sunday Magazine , July 18, 2009, on the eve of a Congress health care vote, a feature article: "Why We Must Ration Health Care - A utilitarian philosopher's argument for placing a dollar value on human life, by Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton University."
Why, in the wealthiest country in the world does caring for its citizens register far below a priority for the free and unregulated flow of capital, money and commodities - if the well-being of its citizens registers at all?
As socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont points out, though many veterans of the U.S. military enjoy government VA Administration's socialized medicine and the elderly enjoy some amount of Medicare's socialized government medical insurance, all the rest of Americans have to purchase expensive private medical attention and/or buy costly medical insurance from companies which make a profit by limiting medical services.
Inside the Times Magazine article, a candid statement,"Estimates of the number of deaths caused annually by the absence of health care [in the U.S.] go as high as 20,000."
The article is well intentioned, but the difficulty it presents is so complicated and perplexing. Why all the financial calculations and manufactured worries to avoid implementing that universal right to health care? Why the desperate corporate attempts at masking how much more modestly endowed societies manage to do it - and do it more humanely than the superpower known to control nearly half the world's wealth and resources?
Yours truly has personally experienced wonderfully kind and relaxed good health care in three European and two Asian countries In student days, I broke my ankle skiing. The Austrian resort physician's fee required that I pay a bit in addition to the precisely cataloged German medical insurance coverage for each specific charge, X-ray, bone setting, and cast. All students in Germany have had complete coverage since Chancellor Bismarck instituted a national insurance program before W.W.I. I had a bicycle accident; went to my landlady's family doctor, who was satisfied to accept what the basic coverage paid. Citizens go to whatever doctor they want to; no 'in the system' - 'out of the system', 'co-pay', 'deductibles', HMO restrictions.
In communist run Yugoslavia: "No, if your child has fever, don't bring it out into the cold, we will send a nurse or doctor within the hour." Going for a consultation myself, invariably, it was a skilled woman nurse practitioner, or a fine woman doctor specialist - no charge in every case.
In Italy, my family's coverage seemed to have been double. One from the State Radio Corporation I was working for and there was also the local clinic, again, no charge, even for house calls.
Everyone in Hong Kong seemed to be covered for everything, and although, when I visited someone in hospital, I was amazed at the crowding - beds in corridors and so many family members allowed to be there even overnight, the patient and sweet tenderness of the nurses and kindness of the staff was awesome, and everyone seemed to be happily in the flow. Medical services were at high standards.
In Hanoi, in nominally communist Vietnam in the nineties, I had a student accompany me to get a chest X-ray at a sprawling outdoor hospital of alcoves among the shade of palm trees along the sides of the enclosed treatment rooms, and was impressed with the calm, relaxed, and well organized staff, and again the easy-going charm of nurses and technicians, and the attentiveness that I witnessed all around me toward other patients.
In summation, when there is no money to be made or profit to be taken, there isn't that tension one always feels in doctor's offices hospitals in the States, even after one's coverage has been checked out before being admitted for care.
In civilized countries, medicine and medical attention is not really a business, but a dedication, as is music, art, science, or any profession. To profess a discipline is not the same as what is commonly called in strongly capitalist American society, 'making money' or earning wages from someone else's 'money making'. In no country can the best hospitals and medical research clinics ever 'pay for themselves' let alone make a profit, any more than a fine symphony orchestra, library, museum and so many other institutions and amenities provided within cosmopolitan society can. So why the scam of making money from sickness. Seems unethical at best, savage at worst?
When the highest principles of humanity are put into practice the results are amazing - e.g.:
Cuba provides free health care without the worry, by Peter Eisner
Worldfocus, June 26, 2009
Apropos of the current health care debate in the United States: What happens when a government you happen not to approve of does some good things? The case in point is Cuba, where the level of health care is startling.
Medicine has long been held up as one of the success stories of Fidel Castro's half-century tenure.
During a Worldfocus reporting trip several months ago (February 2009), I had the chance to check out the reality of the claim at various points along the health care track. At one end of the spectrum, I spoke to a retired woman who lives with her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren in a small apartment in downtown Havana. The family's basic income is about $40 a month. They could use more money, but not for health care.
There was an 80-year-old writer who had a quadruple bypass several years ago. He was taken to the provincial hospital with the best reputation for the surgery, recovered at the hospital and at a facility where his family joined him, and now has regular checkups with a doctor who reminds him to keep exercising. No bill for him or his family. It was free.
I spoke to an African-American woman from New York who attends the Latin American School of Medicine in Cuba. The students there are Cubans and foreigners from two dozen countries; the young woman told me the program was life-changing; she would never have had the means to study medicine in the United States. It's free - but wait; there's a catch. Americans who attend must promise the Cuban school that they will practice medicine in poor or under-served communities in the United States.
Finally, I interviewed Dr. Gerardo Guillen, the research director of the Cuban Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, who described pioneering pharmaceutical research. The center is experimenting with drugs to treat and cure prostate cancer and hepatitis C. The center already produces and distributes a drug that treats and cures deep wounds characteristically suffered by diabetes patients. Guillen estimates that tens of thousands of people in the United States could be saved from amputations if they had access to this particular drug. It's not licensed in the United States.
Cuban Americans, among others, sometimes come to Cuba for treatment or for other medical intervention they could not afford back in the United States. The cost for visitors? Not free - but a fraction of what it would cost at home."
(Peter Eisner has been an editor and foreign correspondent at The Washington Post, Newsday and The Associated Press. He was founder and president of Newscom, an international online news service, and speaks Spanish and Portuguese.)
In the 1960s when we chanted "Cuba Si! Yankee No!" we could not have imagined that a tiny Latin American nation of 6,669,000, now more than 11,000,150, would see its revolution survive U.S. embargo, economic sanctions, CIA sabotage, assassination attempts, and invasion, to surpass its superpower neighbor in quality health care, in citizen longevity and lowest infant mortality rate.
Yes, Cuba has long made Article 25 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights a comfortable reality for its citizens.
No, the United States of America has not.
Maybe, the American public will soon become aware that it is the deception and propaganda of the corporate managed media cartel that blocks health care from being accepted as a human right in the US.