Credits: Singapore Art Mueseum

When Money gets in the way of Life

Human: My wife is really sick. Please help her. It pains me to see her suffer.
Doctor: Yes. Absolutely. I will help. But it costs Rs 500.
Human: Yes doctor.
Doctor: I need you to get the following tests done. It costs about Rs 5000.
Human: Yes doctor.

(Tests done)

Doctor: She has cancer. But treatable. Good news.
Human: Thank God. Thank you doctor.
Doctor: Lets put her on treatment. It will cost you a fortune. Can you pay?
Human: Yes…. No… Yes I can try… No. I definitely can’t. No doctor.
Doctor: I am sorry. Try and find a way to bear the cost.
Human: _______ <speechless>

This breaks my heart. And it happens every day. To millions of vulnerable people. All over the world.

I cannot imagine a worse situation for a person to be in, than to know that your loved one is suffering, not because they have an incurable disease, but because they are in a situation where they cannot afford to pay. Suddenly, money is bigger than life itself. I am not talking about a luxury item. This isn’t an option. This is the life of someone you love. With all the work that researchers invest to find a cure, its still out of the grasp of the masses, just because someone decided that we should make a business out of providing care.

Imagine if you were given the power to cripple someone by just pointing a finger at them. Would you take that power? Many people might say “Yes”, and then say, we will use it only on those who deserve this. Like who? Rapists and murderers. Well, if you are a doctor, who works for a hospital that rejects those who can’t pay for their family’s well being, then you 
are waving a finger, and saying: You deserve this. Because you can’t pay. As a doctor, and care giver, you are using the power you have in the most harmful way possible. By being silent. By choosing to not act, when you in-fact have studied years and years, to hone a craft that has the power to save lives. I wish, I had the power. The power to cure.

I am not asking doctors to work for free. But I am vehemently angry at the practice that encourages hospitals to make a profit off other people’s sufferings. I am angry at the Govt and the State for not allocating the hard earned tax money of the citizens to provide quality health care for all.

Don’t be proud of the immense amount of money your son makes as a doctor. Instead ask him if he treats every person, as a human, and not as an opportunity. Does he respect each and every life. Ask him if he thinks of himself too as human.

Health is a human right. Give it to everyone. Equally.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of ThoughtWorks.