Daily Archives: July 14, 2008

Only the rich have views

Let me excerpt a couple of paragraphs from the book “Mountains beyond mountains” by Tracy Kidder about a doctor whose mission is to relieve suffering in Haiti and other parts of the world.

pg 32.

In a bed by the door of the hospital lies a moaning thirteen-year-old girl, just arrived by donkey ambulance. Two young Haitian doctors- one is just an intern -stand beside her bed, eyes half-lowered lips pursed, as Farmer makes the Haitian hand slap, saying, “Dokte-m yo, dotke-m yo, sa k’ap pase-n?” – “Doctors, doctors, what’s going on with you?” His voice sounds plaintive, not angry, as he lectures: You do not administer an antibiotic to a person with meningitis until you have done a spinal tap and know the variety of meningitis and thus which drug will work.

Then he does the job himself, the young doctors looking, holding the girl down.

“I’m very good at spinal taps, ” he’s told me. He seems to be, and besides, he’s left handed, and to my eyes left-handers at work have always looked adroit. The veins stand out on Farmer’s thin neck as he eases the needle in. Wild cries erupt from the child. “Li fe-m mal, mwen grangou!” Farmer looks up, and for a moment he’s narrating Haiti again. “She’s crying, ‘It hurts, I’m hungry.’ Can you believe it? Only in Haiti would a child cry out that she is hungry during a spinal tap.”

Partners in health

That isn’t the world of the rich – that is the world of poverty speaking. It is far messier than just a doctor trying to put together broken lives. Large corporations have a lot to say about whether or not a child lives of or dies. In this case if this child lives it is because Dr. Farmer can get the drugs to treat the child. So many people die of treatable disease – so many children die of treatable diseases – they die of things that weren’t their making. They wake up in streets besides gutters filled with sewage – they didn’t make those rules but those are the rules they live by. So many children could be saved by a mosquito net but they aren’t. So many lives could be saved – so many. These children don’t have voices, not voices that can be heard beyond the slums they live in.

These children don’t have a view, they probably will never be able to afford a view beyond the rickety shacks they inhabit.

Whose fault is it? Some say it is corrupt governments – some say it is their own fault – some say they did it – some say nothing at all – some say its not my problem –

Maybe it isn’t about who or what is at fault (fault deals with the past, not the present or the future)?

There is a voice crying out right now that will stop in three seconds never to be heard again – only the rich can save that life.

In America we will demand justice for the unborn that die needlessly but we won’t lift a finger for the born who will die needlessly. In God’s world, our world, is there a difference between a child who could be saved and dies and a child that dies that could be saved?

Three seconds — tick – tick – tick – another child dies of a preventable cause in this world and no one hears their cry. If only they had a view.

Take a look – Partners in Health