Healthcare should be a right, not a privilege

December 5, 2008 at 8:23 am 1 comment

healthcare-a-rightAs we walked into Dr. Kenneth Tsang’s clinic yesterday afternoon, I was reminded that he was one of the top respiratory specialists and was a Professor of Medicine at the University of Hong Kong. His clinic is in Central Building which is a posh office building in Hong Kong’s financial district. As we entered and sat down on the leather sofas with silk cushions, I noticed the crystal horses and vases that were part of the exquisite decor. The receptionists and medical assistants were dressed in classy pink trouser suits and had pink sweaters on. Each of them had a headset which they used to communicate with each other and with the team in various offices.

There was a large plasma television playing a James Bond flick. The nurse rolled in the latest techological equipment which took my father’s BP, pulse, oxygen saturation and temperature as we sat and waited. I looked around at the many certificates from Cambridge and elsewhere and slowly it dawned on me why his consultation fee was so high. We certainly were out of place in a place like this which was obviously for the elite.

A few minutes later the receptionist asked us to take my father downstairs to the 7th floor to the Bio Imaging centre which I have a sneaking suspicion is also owned by him. The same uniforms, the same slick environment and when we asked to borrow a wheelchair, they had no qualms about loaning it to us.

Back in the doctor’s office on the 12th floor I was impressed to see that he had all my father’s data up on his 21″ desktop computer. As he put up the xrays and scans, he took pictures with his camera and added them to the records, turning around and telling me that he would send me the images as well so that I could readily refer to them if I wished.

Impressed as I was with the efficiency of the operation, and grateful that we could afford to provide my father with the best in healthcare (thanks mostly to my brother who keeps saying “money can be earned – he deserves the best”), once again I was reminded of what my mother used to say to me through the years that she was ill. She said “We are fortunate to be able to benefit from the best healthcare. But what are people who can’t afford all this supposed to do when they fall ill?” It is for this reason that in memory of her, we contribute as much as we possibly can towards the medical care of those who can’t afford it. However, the solution lies in bigger initiatives that all of us need to be a part of. Free public healthcare needs to be a priority for countries such as Pakistan. Healthcare, after all, should be a right and not a privilege.

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Wouldn’t mind having one in my office Missing out :(

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