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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 7/21/09

UN Universal Health Care Right - Cuba Si! Yankee No

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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, United Nation, Dec. 10, 1948

Article 25: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."

"The UN General Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."

In the New York Times Sunday Magazine , July 18, 2009, on the eve of a Congress health care vote, a feature article: "Why We Must Ration Health Care - A utilitarian philosopher's argument for placing a dollar value on human life, by Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton University."

Why, in the wealthiest country in the world does caring for its citizens register far below a priority for the free and unregulated flow of capital, money and commodities - if the well-being of its citizens registers at all?

As socialist Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont points out, though many veterans of the U.S. military enjoy government VA Administration's socialized medicine and the elderly enjoy some amount of Medicare's socialized government medical insurance, all the rest of Americans have to purchase expensive private medical attention and/or buy costly medical insurance from companies which make a profit by limiting medical services.

Inside the Times Magazine article, a candid statement,"Estimates of the number of deaths caused annually by the absence of health care [in the U.S.] go as high as 20,000."

The article is well intentioned, but the difficulty it presents is so complicated and perplexing. Why all the financial calculations and manufactured worries to avoid implementing that universal right to health care? Why the desperate corporate attempts at masking how much more modestly endowed societies manage to do it - and do it more humanely than the superpower known to control nearly half the world's wealth and resources?

Yours truly has personally experienced wonderfully kind and relaxed good health care in three European and two Asian countries.

In student days, I broke my ankle skiing. The Austrian resort physician's fee required that I pay a bit in addition to the precisely cataloged German medical insurance coverage for each specific charge, X-ray, bone setting, and cast. All students in Germany have had complete coverage since Chancellor Bismarck instituted a national insurance program before W.W.I. I had a bicycle accident; went to my landlady's family doctor, who was satisfied to accept what the basic coverage paid. Citizens go to whatever doctor they want to; no 'in the system' - 'out of the system', 'co-pay', 'deductibles', HMO restrictions.

In communist run Yugoslavia: "No, if your child has fever, don't bring it out into the cold, we will send a nurse or doctor within the hour." Going for a consultation myself, invariably, it was a skilled woman nurse practitioner, or a fine woman doctor specialist - no charge in every case.

In Italy, my family's coverage seemed to have been double. One from the State Radio Corporation I was working for and there was also the local clinic, again, no charge, even for house calls.

Everyone in Hong Kong seemed to be covered for everything, and although, when I visited someone in hospital, I was amazed at the crowding - beds in corridors and so many family members allowed to be there even overnight, the patient and sweet tenderness of the nurses and kindness of the staff was awesome, and everyone seemed to be happily in the flow. Medical services were at high standards.

In Hanoi, in nominally communist Vietnam in the nineties, I had a student accompany me to get a chest X-ray at a sprawling outdoor hospital of alcoves among the shade of palm trees along the sides of the enclosed treatment rooms, and was impressed with the calm, relaxed, and well organized staff, and again the easy-going charm of nurses and technicians, and the attentiveness that I witnessed all around me toward other patients.

In summation, when there is no money to be made or profit to be taken, there isn't that tension one always feels in doctor's offices hospitals in the States, even after one's coverage has been checked out before being admitted for care.

In civilized countries, medicine and medical attention is not really a business, but a dedication, as is music, art, science, or any profession. To profess a discipline is not the same as what is commonly called in strongly capitalist American society, 'making money' or earning wages from someone else's 'money making'.

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Jay Janson is an archival research peoples historian activist, musician and writer; has lived and worked on all continents; articles on media published in China, Italy, UK, India, in Germany & Sweden Einartysken,and in the US by Dissident (more...)

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