Cardiac Malfunction: The Plaque of Greed in the Veins of the Healthcare System
By: Seemeen Khan Yousufzai
In a country where the concept of a free national health care service does not even make to a lawmaker’s priority list, we can easily deduce what shambles its governmental healthcare system must be in.
Endless queues of patients; several patients sharing same hospital beds due to lack of space; hospital beds that carry a strong stench of a concoction of bacteria; an unhygienic environment is in rule all around these hospitals that would, normally, be expected to be the personification of health and hygiene. And even all this is increasingly inaccessible, especially, to the poor and lower middle-class strata of the society. This is the sorrow state of affairs of the public healthcare system in Pakistan.
Nevertheless, the private healthcare sector of Pakistan is in a starkly different state, with several hospitals equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and well-qualified doctors. But, it comes with a hefty price.
Good health is a notion for the rich and privileged members of the society in Pakistan. For the poor and needy, i.e. for a majority of Pakistanis, healthcare is a luxury service. Its ease of accessibility to the underprivileged class of society is as real as the existence of unicorns. Healthcare, here, is not the right of a person. Thus, the corruption of privilege is a concept, which still seeps strongly into our ironically modern society in all walks of life in which healthcare is already gaining mushrooming notoriety.
The idea of healthcare was to do service to mankind, however, with time, the worm of corruption of hearts and minds, and greed for money permeated the healthcare sector, as well. The current state of play of businessification of the healthcare system slowly but swiftly began as medical science progressed in identifying diseases and finding dependable treatment for them. Knowing that they possessed a trustworthy and reliable treatment for ailments, doctors raised their fee a great deal. What was once a noble profession, quickly succumbed to the lure of money.
“If the son of Adam had a valley full of gold, he would want to have two valleys. Nothing fills his mouth except dust, and Allah will forgive whoever repents to him.”
Sahih Al-Bukhari, 6075; Sahih Muslim, 1048.
Thus, the monetary gluttony continued snowballing to its current alarming state and may carry on, worsening, as the practice of putting sales before patients involving all the decision making in health institutions goes on. Unfortunately, scientific advance in medical sciences has backfired upon a large stratum of our society.
With governmental medical institutes in a dump and private ones being made inaccessible to the common man, ‘If you are wealthy, you can be healthy’ has become the unspoken tagline of healthcare organizations all around. Healthcare, now, is yet another booming business corporation, where the sole target is minting money. These organizations are also open critics of any policy in favour of establishing free healthcare services, etc. Health legislations are often spoken against since it protects the interests of established businesses, their economy, and benefits.
Our healthcare system is highly unjust, materialistic and cruel. Doctors at private healthcare facilities charge exorbitant amounts in fee that is unfeasible for most patients. Furthermore, to profit more from the ailing patient, most doctors send their hospital patients to their own private clinics for “additional detailed tests” just to extract more money from the naïve patient.
Thus, the underprivileged are discriminated for their inability to pay. They are refused treatment and no one is brought to account if the hospital denies the admission of a patient.
Similar is the case with the orphans and abandoned children. The private healthcare establishments that mint millions from their businesses shy away from giving the basic health care to orphans and abandoned children solely because they’ve no means to recover their credit, even if an infant is dying in front of their eyes.
Honour and humanity are almost extinct. What has happened to us as the human race? Is it that the more informed and advanced we become in terms of worldly knowledge and technology, the more we lose our essence of being humans? We prefer to keep our bank vaults warm with cash, instead of wrapping a warm blanket around a naked, starving, wailing infant; I ask, what is the purpose of these hospitals? Why don’t we shop for doctors and treatments like any other commodity when healthcare has become a mere profit-based commodity? The taxes we pay keep increasing, but the basic rights to healthcare facilities we get keep diminishing.
In 2015, the government of Pakistan reduced health expenditure from 0.69% to 0.42% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). I ask, was it because the public healthcare system has seen a massive improvement? Has every underprivileged person in the country provided with basic healthcare? If not, why was it reduced? To assist the private healthcare sector to amass more profit with the blood of the nation?
When the government increases taxes per appointment for private doctors, it does not affect the business of the private healthcare centres as they simply readdress that load onto the patients’ fee. When all’s said and done, it is, eventually, the common poor man bears the brunt of any law that the government imposes. So why doesn’t the government take steps to impose a price ceiling on doctors’ fee?
Ultimately, it all comes down to the sanctioning and the active implementation of the legislation, which holds the perpetrators of injustices accountable. Wherever the law is applied equally, without fear or favor running in its judicial system, misfortunes can be avoided. However, if there is no accountability, there will be no responsibility. For that reason, accountability is the root to exterminating the plague of greed and corruption, which has created a toxic culture of false ideas of grandiosity, from the core of our society.