Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Where Wealth is Health!

While India's economic growth is on the media radar, and articles
about how Americans and other westerners are going to India for it's
high quality, yet relatively cheap healthcare get written, the truth
is that there are many millions of Indians who are getting poorer and
are unable to receive proper healthcare. Capitalism is on the rise.

From a New York Times article, titled, "Royal Care for Some of India's
Patients, Neglect for Others" -- "Mr. Steeles, 60, a car dealer from
Daphne, Ala., had flown halfway around the world last month to save
his heart, at a price he could pay. He had a mitral valve repaired at
a state-of-the-art private hospital here, called Wockhardt, and for 10
days, he was recuperating in a carpeted, wood-paneled room, with a
view of a leafy green courtyard.

A dietician helped select his meals. A dermatologist came as soon as
he complained of an itch. His Royal Suite had cable TV, a computer, a
minirefrigerator, where an attendant that afternoon stashed some ice
cream, for when he felt hungry later. Three days after surgery, he was
sitting in a chair, smiling, chattering, thrilled to be alive.

On his bed lay the morning's paper. Dominating its front page was the
story of other men, many of them day laborers who laid bricks and
mixed cement for Bangalore's construction boom, who had fallen gravely
ill after drinking illegally brewed liquor. All told, more than 150
died that week, here and in neighboring Tamil Nadu State.

Not for them the care of India's best private hospitals. They had been
wheeled in by wives and brothers to the overstretched government-run
Bowring Hospital, on the other side of town. Bowring had no intensive
care unit, no ventilators, no dialysis machine. Dinner was a stack of
white bread, on which a healthy cockroach crawled while a patient,
named Yelappa, slept.

Wockhardt has 30 ventilators, including some that are noninvasive, so
the patient does not have to have a tube rammed down his throat. At
any one time, a half-dozen are in use. An elderly woman had been in
its intensive care unit for a week, on dialysis; her family wanted to
do whatever possible to keep her alive, no matter the cost.

At Bowring, one of the young doctors, named Harish, said a ventilator
and a dialysis machine would have allowed him to keep half of his
patients alive. The most severe case, Mohammed Amin, was breathing
with the aid of a hand pump that his wife squeezed silently. Dr.
Harish sent the relative of one man to get blood tests done at the
nearest private hospital; there was no equipment to do the test here.
Then the doctor rushed to the triage section in Bowring's lobby, where
the newest patient, writhing, resisting, disoriented from the poison
in his gut, had to be tied down with bedsheets."

Universal healthcare is not just needed for the US, it is required for
other capitalistic societies like India as well.

Read the full NYT article at--

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