Sunday, December 11, 2005

Perfume, Pets, and Pediatrics

Perfume, Pets, and Pediatrics

An article was published in Pediatrics in September, 2003 entitled: “Inequity in Child Health as a Global Issue”. The author is Tony Waterston, MD.

“Poverty, violence, lack of education, abuse and exploitation, and refugee status are among th4 primary determinants of the health of children worldwide. Half of the world’s population, 3 billion people, lives on less than US $1.30 per day. The world’s 225 richest people have a combined wealth equivalent to the annual income of the poorest 2.5 billion people, nearly half of the world’s population.”

The article has a table that lists The World’s Priorities (Annual Expenditures). We spend $6 billion per year for basic education for all but spend $8 billion per year for cosmetics in the US. We spend $9 billion per year for water and sanitation for all but spend $11 billion per year for ice cream in Europe and $12 billion for perfumes in Europe and the US. WE spend $13 billion per year for basic health and nutrition for all but spend $17 billion for pet foods in Europe and the US.

Haiti is located 90 minutes by air from Miami but has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Malnutrition is rampant in children under 5 years of age. Thousands of kids live on the streets and many are sold as restaveks (child slaves). The Haitian family has been disrupted due to economic reasons and political violence.

The median life expectancy is about 50 years of age. The majority of Haitians are unemployed, illiterate, and have no access to potable drinking water, or electricity. Per capita income is US $200. There 1 doctor per 10,000 people in Haiti and even worse in the province (countryside) because most doctors are rural. More Haitian doctors live abroad than in Haiti. There are more Cuban doctors in Haiti than Haitian doctors.

Haiti has no meaningful infrastructure. There are approximately 160 miles of paved road in a country with 12,000 square miles. The state hospitals are tragic and resident physicians who do the majority of the work in these hospitals frequently go on strike because they lack medical supplies and go without paychecks. Technology in these hospitals is lacking. There is, of course, no cardiac bypass technology that is functioning for heart surgery. Patients and their families have to buy their own IV solutions, needles, antibiotics, suture equipment, etc. Family members bring in food for the patients and bathe them.

The US, France, and Canada helped destabilize the democratically elected Haitian president in 2004 and he left the country under duress. A de-facto government run by a Floridian businessman now controls Haiti until new elections can be accomplished.

Kidnappings, carjackings, beheadings, political violence, and gang violence now plague Port-au-Prince. Entire slums housing hundreds of thousands of people are cut off from the rest of the capital by armed thugs. The 7000 UN soldiers have their hands full. The Haitian diaspora is fearful of returning to their country amidst the chaos. Haiti is hell now.

With this background, Paul Kramer, Director of Children’s Hospital of Illinois phoned the American Consulate in Haiti and advised them to grant no more visas to Haitian Hearts patients that needed heart surgery at OSF-CHOI. Doug Marshall, OSF’s, attorney notified them also the following year.

These actions are against the OSF Mission Statements and against the Ethical and Religious Directives written by Catholic moralists and ethicists regarding how Catholic medical centers should treat the poor and marginalized people---like Haitian children.

Haitian Hearts has offered to even pay for FULL CHARGES for Haitian patients and FULL CHARGES were turned down by OSF. OSF now refuses to take care of children operated in the past at OSF who need to return from Haiti for more heart surgery with $10,000 being offered for each child.

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