Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Blind Optimism

From Oxfam, here is an article on a recent review of health care in poor countries. If ever socialised medicine was needed, its in place like India.


Rich countries and World Bank must stop pushing privatized health in poor countries

Anna Marriott, author of the report, said: “Donors’ romantic views of private sector health providers are completely divorced from the facts. In Malawi 70 per cent of private providers are shops. For the most part, private health care in poor countries is made up of unqualified shopkeepers selling out-of-date medicines. Is that what you would want for your sick baby?”

Full report here.


Slumdog Surgeons

Not so much the total quack in the small room you see there, but when I travel to those smallish private clinics with similar sign-boards to set-up or demonstrate our equipment most of the Drs I see are genuinely trying to provide a better service... and not only to the patients that can afford them. A lot of these Genuine Drs do donate a lot of free work as well, but their primary motivation is still to pay off the equipment we just sold them!

There just aren't enough free public clinics, centrally run and funded.

OK, you Ayn Randy types, how can the people of the slums go private? Why should they? you ask. Why don't they suffer and die on the streets?

Ah, you selfish blame-the-victim scum, why don't you go and crash the world economy again?


Give, donate, think of others. When you see poverty such as this, don't count your blessings, don't count anything, just give and have some optimism that change can come.

As I have been on a geekery and books spree this last week, I am donating an equivalent amount to a charity like Oxfam or World Vision or World Food. Not as much as this Peter Singer guy suggests, but it's something.



savannah said...

different field, but the same sort of problem the MITM has in africa. it isn't enough to as you say, count your blessings it what are you doing to help. we have so much and we have much to do. you'e a good man, sugar! xoxox

expat@large said...

Sav: yes our instintual survival mechanism when faced with such poverty is to look at how lucky WE are. This can even make us feel good - the Schopenhauer idea of our happiness being relative to the crap that the next guy has to live with.

Mark: There's a huge Empthy Gap between economic extremists and the real world. Doubling the salary of the Bangladeshi worker would add 17c to the price of your Nikes.

How much MORE happy are we if we are MUCH better off than others? Surely, if they could be better off than what they are now, and we were still able to stay ahead, wouldn't we still be happy enough? Rather than have extreme peaks of wealth, wouldn't it be better to have a general raising of the level?

I'm not saying redistribute the wealth or the love, I'm saying redistribute justice, fairness, education, health and opportunity.

One problem with having a lot is that due to habit or accustomization we soon become dissatisfied with what we have, so we think we have to hunt for more. We should instead hunt for different things, for ways to help others get ENOUGH not more. Often they haven't got any! Stop thinking of ourselves and our possessions and acquisitions. It's a form of meditation really, a way of focussing outside your own desires.

Having said all that, what new phone should I get?

dibabear said...

I work a lot with colleagues in India. Hell, my employer has spent (quite literally) billions there in recent year. They're a nice lot, no better or no worst than the European, US and Aussie colleagues I work with. However I can't help thinking, almost daily, that here's a country without decent health care, without sufficient public sewage and clean water with an overburdened infrastructure such that it is and they have the Bomb, and want to go to the Moon? Nehru spent heavily on the IITs so that India could raise itself up to the level of the west but I really think their government needs to spend money on improving their own lot in life first if they're ever to be taken seriously as more than just cheap labor.'s a sore point with me.

expat@large said...

Dibab: me too.

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