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Category: Health Care 07 Jan 07

 

Its grey here, in Washington, mangled bare trees blocking terracotta buildings, the tops of their skeletal branches sharp against the dull sky.

 

The quiet is not oppressive, mitigated by the presence of sleeping children, the prospect of a warmly lit café, a concert in a church, sitting on a bookshop floor. The pleasures are gentle, the quiet a temporary respite from the heart clutching fear with which we open the newspapers everyday-of kidnapping, murders, of a self interested mean spiritedness that negates humanity..

 

Removed from home, in this cold climate, without fear, it is easier to be still. There is no need for the nonstop music, and circular talk of crime,"make-work" spending, inflation and politicians without ideologies to muffle the advancing menace.

 

I watched the heralding of the New Year around the world on television raining confetti on the thousands on Time square with a dazed detachment. There was something horribly wrong with that carefully choreographed cinematic moment on live American television. On the same screen, same channel, minutes apart, flashed tiny children dying of malnutrition in Africa, a mother burying child after child, followed by a story on Americas latest trend -food eating competitions.

 

2007 that began with a murder a day and a teenaged mother in hospital in a coma because doctors are "sick" requires us to shed the skins, the fevered cult of wealth we've been living in the last decade, to find our essential humane core. It is time as the late Andre Tanker sang, to bring back the ole time ways."

 

Ironically some of the "ole time ways" are alive and kicking in doctors in America. Its part of what makes them the best in the world. This is the second column inspired by an interview with Dr Charles Hesdorrfer, a South African born oncologist at Johns Hopkins, who is researching the development of vaccines for patients with various cancers. Last week Dr Hesdorffer said that the only things that will make a difference to the world are spending on education and health. Jeffery Sachs, the world foremost economists on Globalisation has said it, the UN has said it, Bill Gates is saying it, every first world country, from America to Europe is doing it. Spending on Health and Education. How can we get Mr Manning to do it? It's the only way to achieve the 20/20 I believe he genuinely wants.

 

Here at Johns Hopkins, I see the wonder of education and health spending every day. Dial 911 and the paramedics tell you on the way to emergency that they have a four year degree. Every nurse has a degree, which includes courses on how to treat patients and their families. (With care, not aggression)

 

I don't understand why, with two universities in our tiny islands of village proportions and oil pouring out of them like rivers of honey in heaven we can't achieve that. All our gang boys with guns could be in uniforms, being real heroes, saving lives, removing bullets, instead of pumping them in. Dr Hesdorffers words:

 

"The problem with modern medicine is doctors want either money or fame or both. The only way you can build compassion with patients is if you build it with them through that illness. One of my first patients had leukaemia. For six years until he died we became friends. We went to cricket.”

 

I think there are doctors like that. "Doctors without Borders" who give free medical care to people in war torn areas have a spirit in them. They want to help people make good what the world made bad without regard for their own place.

 

The systems in the US are the best in the world partially because of our rules and guidelines. The patient has a right to emergency care, the ability to complain and have recourse. There is a Bill of Rights for doctors and patents which is handed to the patient or family at his arrival. It's the third world vs. first world medicine. The question is how you generalise the wonders?"

 

So I ask Mr Manning "Why do you choose to have power rather than health and education?"

 

He may answer. If democracy still exists.

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur