Indifference Pills Where You Least Expect Them

Mariam Rizkalla, Staff Writer

  It was a typical Friday night in Cairo City. My brother’s lip was bleeding on my mother’s dress as she ran, barefooted, to the nearest hospital. Freaked out and unable to say a single word, my nine-year-old self still made an effort to ease my parents’ anxiety. As soon as we entered the hospital, my father saw a pediatric trauma surgeon in the corner. “We’ll give you however much you want, but please, you must stitch him up immediately! He’s three years old and has already bled enough,” he yelled as he ran through the emergency room door.

  We waited for a response. Five seconds later, the surgeon (who was actually a third-year resident) looked up and said that he couldn’t do it at the moment since it required cosmetic suture, which was only found in the Plastic Surgery Department under the Chief’s permission. My mother nervously replied, offering to buy the necessary suture from the hospital’s pharmacy herself. He didn’t even think about her offer. Not for a split second. He quickly cut her off, strongly refusing to use a suture other than the hospital’s, which we had no access to.

  His brutal response took me long to process, almost an entire minute. I was shocked. My inner surgeon raged in anger and exasperation. I wanted to tear his white coat apart and strangle him with the stethoscope that he did not deserve. What a shame! Too many questions raced to my head: “How could this creature be a doctor? A surgeon?! Should I even consider him a human?! The child is bleeding!!”

  The situation deteriorated quicker than I hoped. Soon enough, our talks exploded into a fight and he had no choice but to do what he was told and suture my brother’s lip.

  Unfortunately, while you might think that these scenarios are only occurring in developing countries, this can not be further from the truth. They are probably happening five blocks away from you.

  According to the World Health Organization, 400 million people around the globe have no access to essential healthcare services, and six percent of those individuals live on $1.25 per day. This may not be shocking to you, but what if I tell you that 44 million Americans are medically uninsured, eighty percent of which are workers or dependents. Does that change your perspective?

  Realizing that this poor-quality healthcare exists in the United States in 2019 can be extremely disturbing and difficult to ingest. This hazardous lack of care is what compels uninsured individuals to postpone necessary care and routine check-ups. Not to mention that 800 million Americans spend at least ten percent of their income on healthcare.

  You might be wondering why the government is not doing anything to help those poor individuals, considering that 17.9 percent of its GDP is accounted for by the healthcare industry. US healthcare expenditures grew by 3.9 percent in 2017 and reached $3.5 trillion, escalating the average healthcare payments to $10,739 per person. Can everyone afford this care, though?

  Thousands of patients in all medical facilities are destined to die each and every day while they can easily be saved by the integration of proper medical care. Essential healthcare services must be provided at the highest possible quality and must be accessible by all Americans at a significantly lower cost in order to ensure that each individual lives to his or her optimal health and maximum life-expectancy.

  Making healthcare services accessible for all is not a privilege as some may think. It’s actually a right that all Americans are entitled to. Healthcare is “a legitimate function of government,” according to former Congressman Dennis Kucinich.

  Another research study conducted by Harvard University in 2009 found that “lack of health insurance is associated with as many as 44,789 deaths per year.” This translates to a 40 percent increased risk of death among uninsured individuals. These numbers are ridiculously alarming, considering that healthcare is a universal human right. Also, taking the Unites States’ wealth into account, there is absolutely no excuse for it not to be a universal healthcare participant.

  Some medical professionals argue that lowering healthcare costs could potentially lead to a doctor shortage since doctors would be paid slightly less and thus, less students would consider entering the field; however, this is not necessarily true. Reducing healthcare costs would not have an impact on doctors’ salaries if the money goes where it needs to go. This means budget redistribution.

  Clearly, not everyone can afford medical care at the cost that it is currently being provided. In fact, a very small percentage can. As a person who has had first-hand experience with these situations, I can certainly say that they are very difficult to encounter. It is time to grant people access to their most significant right.