Thursday, December 18, 2008

Reflections (10)

Illness still stalks me, though it is fading...but not fast enough.

It's sometimes sobering to realise that less than 100 years ago, the diseases that we treat and cure so easily would have killed people. The cough that I have battled against could well have resulted in my death, as could any number of illnesses that I have had over my life.

In some parts of the world, and even in some parts of Britain and other western nations, these diseases still kill people. Bad housing, bad healthcare, bad diet, can all contribute to early or unnecessary deaths.

We can sit back, look at the statistics and say that things have improved over the last 100 years. Have they?

200 years ago, the diseases that killed the poor would also kill the rich. Money made no difference to whether you survived childbirth or cholera.

Now, if you have money, you can survive most diseases. In the west, more people have sufficient money to pay for treatments or a National system of healthcare, though that is not guarantee.

Is our western wealth blinding us to reality? Is humanity really healthier?

In Africa, AIDS medicine costs too much to be made available generally. In the west we spend millions each year on non-critical plastic surgery.

People are living longer, but is that a real guide to our health? Given that most of the rise in lifespans is due to the lowering of the deathrate amongst the under 5s, I'm not so sure we are healthier or better cared for.

Unless you have lots of money.

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