[203] Hope After Corona – Health, Remarkable Marketable

They are standing on the balconies, applauding loud into the darkness of the winterish evenings. The American Wave spreads over various countries during Covid-19. While the invisible enemy was fought, the audience applauded for its soldiers. If Covid-19 taught us anything, it was to thank our health care workers and feel the urgency of a dedicated health care system.

Covid-19 has confronted with the crucial role of health care. In these five articles I take you over five questions we have to ask about health care for the post-Corona world.

  1. Must governments invest in Health Care?
  2. Is Health a Marketable Good?
  3. Does health care reward in the long-term, other than in terms of money?
  4. Do we need a globalised health care system, such as the World Health Organisation?
  5. Are health care workers heroes?

Today: is health a marketable good?

Yesterday, I talked about the increasing pressure on public health care systems. Less public investments over the years, or none or, even worse, falsely claimed investments, have hollowed various medical institutions all over the world. With an increasing pressure on staff and means. No wonder we had to flatten the curve, because our hospitals could not take the fast spreading cases of Covid-19. Although highly infectious, Covid-19 is not the only one to blame.

Outweighing hospitals beds versus Covid-cases, which in some situations ended up with having to send home a patient in need knowing his trip back home would have been his last trip forever.

Covid-19 showed a crucial crack in our system: the decreasing government investments in public health care; the annually budget cuts to apply our capitalist mindset on an au-fond non-profit sector. But is health care even a marketable good?

Filling the Gap

These decreasing government’s investments, come at a time of increasing health care needs due to a growing population, growing life-expectancy, or growing wealth. This gap was in various countries filled up with private health care. Health care for those who could afford.

With more means and staff, they can be better equipped to provide medical services. But this advantage comes at a cost. A cost which is for many unaffordable, resulting in deepened inequality.

In a lot of countries, health care became a luxury good, only affordable by the already socio-economic fortunate people, hence deepening overall inequality in the society.

Moreover, with regards to health care, inequality comes at a huge cost: lives.

But must healthcare be even a marketable good that is surrendered to the mechanism of the economic market, where prices are set by offer and demand, and only the ones with enough financial means can afford it to be healthy, and in extremis to stay alive?

Human Rights

‘Health is a fundamental human right’ says the World Health Organization (WHO). But, at least half the world lacks access to essential health services, shows a report of the same organisation made in 2017 – even before the Corona crisis.

We should have been warned that the capacity of our hospitals wouldn’t be sufficient for the Corona cases and casualties.

Moreover, because various countries lack a decent public health care system, as discussed in previous post, every year 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty because of health expenses they cannot afford[1]. Basic health care to whom they have to spend more of their household budget than they can afford.

One-Way Ticket to Poverty

They are with about 800 million, the people who have to spend at least 10 percent of their household budget on health expenses for themselves and/or for sick family members. In some households, that means this results in a remaining household budget of US$1.9 or less a day.

Health issues can be a one-way ticket to poverty.

This one-way ticket makes health care even more unaffordable, resulting in worsened health conditions, which in its turn results in a worsened economic situation. Personal health care issues, or even the care of an ill family member, can eventually turn out in losing one’s job, hence bringing even more economic hardship, and as a result more health hardship. The downwards spiral has started, and it is tough to get out there on your own.

Children born into poverty are almost twice as likely to die before the age of five as those from wealthier families. But, children from educated mothers, even if it were only primary education, are more likely to survive. Therefore, investing in poverty prevention, public health care and education, are crucial to give the youngest of our societies a chance to live, and to prevent the 5 million child lives that are still taken every year due to a lack of any of these factors.[2]

Income Gap

Even though the majority of these child deaths happen in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, one on five child deaths does occur elsewhere in the world. Access to health care is a huge problem in these regions of the world, it is not an exclusive problem to them.

Globally, the income gap between and within countries can be reflected on access to affordable, reliable and accessible health care. Since Covid-19 has put the already fragile balance under more pressure, the health crisis resulting in an economic crisis, will result in another health crisis in the long term if not acted upon adequately.

Health 4 All

Therefore, the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030 has made one goal of health: ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.’ All over the world, several actions were taken and measures were put in place to reach this goal. The results: 17,000 fewer children die each day (compared to 1990) before they reach their 5th birthday, and maternal mortality has fallen by 37% since 2000, to name a few improvements. But a lot of challenges are still ahead of us.

Moreover, Corona might undo lots of these efforts due to the increasing pressure on health care systems, as well as the deteriorating socio-economic situation of many people globally. Moreover, if Corona – one tremendous health crisis – threatens the progress so far, we might wonder how structural and efficient those changes were.

Therefore, we need to rethink the health resilience of our countries, and the approach we have taken to push health care under the marketable goods umbrella.

In a nutshell, public health care is about more than health, it is a Universal Human Right. Moreover, health is the basic for life quality as such, since the lack of a decent health care system can deepen inequalities between and within countries, provides a one-way ticket to poverty, and in extremis takes unnecessary lives.

Therefore, in next blog post I wonder if we should think in non-monetizable benefits when it comes to health care. True health, and lives, are non-payable.

This article is part of the series of Hope in Times of Corona. Read

  1. How this too shall pass
  2. how this times of self-isolation should not mean loneliness,
  3. how you can contribute to this battle,
  4. how gratitude lights up the dark,  
  5. how united we will stand strong
  6. on the most util strategy in awake of a crisis
  7. how I got blown of my feet as well, but caught by many caring hands,
  8. how being calm can get us through the storm.
  9. about Love in Times of Corona
  10. how to discover your own talents
  11. why we need stories to hold on to
  12. how you can be creative and innovative.
  13. how to spend your mot valuable assets in times of Corona.
  14. how to listen to the sound of silence.
  15. How breath taking Corona really is.
  16. discover the other freedoms Corona has shown us,
  17. about the new-born freedom Corona gave us.
  18. about another way to exceed your personal bubble.
  19. about the position of nature in this entire story
  20. about nature bouncing back
  21. about the crucial choice between resilience and resistance
  22. about the game to play
  23. about star gazing in dark times
  24. About looking for Meaning
  25. About how Music Connects
  26. about what Easter and Corona have in Common
  27. About the Shark and the Turtle
  28. About the Irony of Distance
  29. Why to Hold on
  30. Fake News
  31. about The Big Unknown we live at
  32. about Feeling Alive
  33. About turning obstacles into opportunities
  34. about what the Birthday of my nephew learned me about life 
  35. About where we should go from here?
  36. About coping with incertitude
  37. About the Great War and the Great Pandemic, and we should not forget
  38. about history’s most important message, echoed by corona
  39. How one country could rule them all
  40. About how to prevent the next Green Pandemic 
  41. about how we are experiencing a new episode of our history books
  42. about when the poppy flowers
  43. about what’s in a number
  44. masks off, how a friend in need is a friend indeed
  45. What’s Next. after we flattened the curve?
  46. how will our personal story look like in a post-corona world?
  47. why we should never let a good crisis go too waste.
  48. How Spring can happen in Autumn
  49. How to unlock the lockdown
  50. Why education matters
  51. How we can give meaning to the meaningless deaths. (rethink health care)

Or wait until tomorrow, when I’ll shine another light on yet another positive corner of this dark times.

[1] ‘World Bank and WHO: Half the world lacks access to essential health services, 100 million still pushed into extreme poverty because of health expenses’, 2017, www.who.int

[2] ‘Goal 3: ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at al ages’, 2020,  www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/health

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