Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ode to SICKO

Once upon a time wise old man, as fictitious as he can be in my mind, did say; the society is judged by the way it treats the underprivileged and not necessarily by the count of high raised buildings and glamour it can carry off. Never did I imagine I’d confront the emotional variations of the so said above.

Late afternoon, a day in Nairobi, I happened to watch this documentary by Michael Moore called the SICKO. Started off as a feature of America’s health care policies and went off to a traumatizing revelation of how the policies affect the lower bottom of the society who all they seek is to be taken care off at their worst of the conditions.

It wonders a normal mind, how is that policies of such a stature, as stated by the government, could be against the living society. Let me give you a glimpse of the same as I go by.

The feature starts off with a normal American’s life woven around the health policy. It spells, how much expensive the medication can prove to be whilst you still pay the taxes as quoted by the government for the betterment of society. One pays a hefty amount to get a policy which includes no compensation if at all you have one of the million diseases as listed in their governance. Now by chance you encounter any of those against the listed scene, you end up being hospitalized and waiting till eternity to be served the deserved.

Following on to different countries, Mr. Moore goes on to explore how the health policies make or break a person’s life. Touring to France, he faces the shock of his life, where he learns that the hospitalization doesn’t cost a bit if you chose to hit the hospitals. For example, if you are sick with some reasons, you are attended to immediately by the expertise where they’d cater to your basic essentials without bothering how much dough you carry around. The motto is very simple, serve the one who knocks on your door, irrespective of their social stature of being privileged or not. As simple as that.

More to add, France has a policy that if you work beyond 35 hrs in a week, you get compensated with those many hrs of leave by the employer as a RULE. One gets to take off for mandatory 5 weeks vacation no matter what. If you happen to be a lady and pregnant, you get to have 6 months of paid vacation and 6 months of unpaid leave but you can still resume your work after 1 year with no hinges. If one falls sick, depending on ones circumstances, the doctor seeks the patient’s mindset of willing to resume his work. If one quotes of say 3 months break to heal from the illness, it is so be it. Doctor signs off a advice to the employer that the employee will be off for the next 3 months on medical grounds and the employee gets paid 65% of the pay by the government and 35% by the employer so to ensure he gets his full 100% pay and yet time to recover and recoup for his immediate future. Beat that for compensation!!!

Moving on to London, Mr. Moore heads to a local hospital which is run by the National Health Policy. If you are sick, you are embraced immediately by the hospital to its best of the services and best of all you don’t pay a penny for the services. You are given the best of the class health care and treated respectably. Mr. Moore hunts for a department which actually charges for the services and disappointingly finds none. However, he does spot a cashier cabin and is thrilled to know the hidden cost that one may dismiss. To his disappointment, he learns the cashier cabin is the one where the patients get paid rather than paying for the services. Seriously noted, the patients can get their money back in this department for their travel expenses and not in turn pay for the hospitals services. Now here is the best part. As quoted earlier, the hospital is run by National Health Policy so the doctors actually work for the government. Now imagine, being a government servant, one could possibly imagine their life to be livable. But challenge your thoughts as the doctor in interview drove around an Audi with a million dollar apartment all by himself to his family and had no debts whatsoever.

Now one would imagine how a normal doctor gets to live such a lavish life. Here was the unbelievable part, the doctor in question was on general practioner and his compensation revolved around how many patients he would heal from their blood pressures, habits of quitting smoking and drinking and leading a normal life. His perks actually depended on the counts of patients he succeeded to heal from the abnormality! The doctor gets paid 85000 pounds annually, all health care taken care off for his immediate family and the pension in question would run more than 100000 pounds for his security. He posed a life of luxury one could imagine for his belief. With 2 state of the class cars, apartment one would die for, yet serving the society to its privilege. When asked a question would he love working in the states, he replied, why would I, when I am doing the best to the society and being compensated equally. Point well taken!

Mr. Moore, to believe more on the government and its health care policy, moved on to meet the American families that lived in the city. On the table served with some fantastic wine and dinner, he was facing 9 families from varied sectors. To his shock, they all had the same story how life is so different from the ones they saw back in States. Disclosing me to his shock, they spoke of the government actually hiring a nanny to the women who were pregnant. Nanny would come twice a week to the houses and do their laundries and cooking and helping the ladies during their pregnancy and post pregnancy. The individuals dint have to pay anything for the services. Beat that! Which government would pay for Nannies for the services as needed by the expected mothers! None that I know until I saw the documentary.

Best part of the entire Health Care, your prescriptions comes for 6.65 pounds and nothing more. The price is inclusive of no of prescriptions that the doctor gives. 1 aspirin or 100 aspirins or the most expensive medication of the terminal illness, the price remains the same.

Moving back to Canada, Mr. Moore sat by the table in a hotel which served best of the stakes. Along with him were his distant relatives who’d been Canadians since the time they knew that existed. The couple in their late 80’s spoke about how Canada’s Health Policy did save their life to a large extent. Canada, as one knows is right across the river that separates it from America. However, the separation is studied more beyond the geographical extent. It is all together, in different terms that one could possibly associate with. There, if one falls sick, he could just walk into the hospital without any consultants of the Health Policies to know if the hospital was listed under their cover. One could choose their own doctors without dictation. That was absolutely new to Mr. Moore from America and quite shocking as well from his learned past.

Where Mr. Moore came from, one had to 1st consult their Health Policy consultant for their state of affairs and then go to the listed Hospitals for their limited services. Anything beyond as quoted in the Health Policy would be ones own expense, and believe them, the expenses are mountain high.

An incident as told by a Canadian, drew my attention to the possible expenses one would bear with. Upon a time, he was holidaying in US of America where he was enjoying one afternoon playing golf. As the acknowledged golfers swear by, there are times when they get the golf’s hinge and hurt their arms with a bulging pout. So called, the golfers arm, the nerve that winds your biceps muscle with the forearm, flips by and you face a traumatic experience of a pain that hurls around from your arm to the chest. So it did for the vacationer, that it almost spoiled his family’s time out of Canada.

When he was off to one of the prestigious hospitals, he was derived with a shock to acknowledge that the bill was amounting to more than $24,000. He chose to live in the pains and move back to Canada, to be adequately treated, as respectably as possible, in his homeland. Surprisingly he was treated with the best of the possibilities and least of the amount, if I may say so, the amount was null.

Now what separates the river flowing by, that it caters to such and advancement. Wonder wildly, it is the mere separation of the government rule that spells by. Hardly an evidence to the ruling dictum, one sees a total life altogether.

Back in USA, Mr. Moore, stops by a lane, where one often sees a vision of being abandoned by the roads when he fails to cater to the hospital services. Unbelievable, so to say, it is disgusting to realize the hospital authorities abandon the patients so secluded, to the lanes where they can find their healing to the future. Fortunately, there was an establishment, which actually catered for these abandoned patients by the streets to be nurtured to their best healing abilities.

An exclusive interview with one of the patients who was left so far to her destiny and accepted whole heartedly by the institution, it revealed the kinda work the establishment was involved with. A lady, in her late 70’s was diagnosed of being struck with a terminal illness of leukemia. Unfortunately she had no close by’s to support her through the turmoil. As had inadequate capacity to pay her expenses, she was left stranded by the road. But for an angel disguised in a nurse’s capabilities who helped her way through the institution, she was indeed been taken care off after all. In a surprising interview with the head of the doctor of the earlier hospital, he had the audacity to comment that she was abandoned as she was unable to pay the hospital expenses. Aren’t doctors trained to help the needy and sick ones? What happened to the oath he took as a graduate to be there when the patient wants him the most, what happened to the desire that made him to be a doctor in the 1st place and worst of all what happened to the humanity that he was born with? How could one abandon a Leukemia patient, or matter of fact any patient when they can’t afford to pay the hospital bills. Haven’t they heard of Mother Teresa??? Don’t they have something called sympathy within? What would they do when they are not in a position to pay the hospital bills and treated the same way as they do?? It drives me crazy to realize that money is the mother of all and will still be treated to be one so.

When the lady in pain was asked more questions she went to reveal how confused and shattered she was. One fine morning she was woken up by the nurses and asked to pack bags. Not realizing what was happening, she did so and then she was escorted to a cab where none spoke anything. The cab halted by a lonely road where the institution was located, she didn’t understand what was going on. Then the cab driver told her to get down and take care of herself. As she got down, she dint know where she was and was left alone on the cold streets by some cold human beings who least respected those in need. The footage on the camera captured her wandering for the next 10 minutes being clueless, one for being left alone and second for being disoriented due to her heavy medication.

All she was left with was the unknown fear, least that she could battle with her ongoing misery of leukemia. The tears never faded from her eyes through the entire interview. How could one possibly resist not binging to those emotions? But we still had many of them like the Head of hospital for whom all that mattered was money!

SICKO then moved on to the most traumatic experience of 9/11 rescue workers.

Seeing back to 9/11, one of the biggest shocks of the world (well quoted so by the United of States of America) and one believe it to be the most (neglecting the worst that was ever witnessed). Nonetheless not challenging the Big Ben’s rule of declaration, the documentary turns out to be one helluva experience from the ground level, especially as quoted politically by the great American, Mr. Moore (must admit I have become a crazy fan of his with the work that he has done)

There were many who battled the terrorists attack on the twin tower; from the state officials to the layman. They worked months together to excavate the victims from the debris; the pain barely being extinguished while the fire mellowed down.

Regina, John, Dona were few of those who volunteered themselves for the 9/11 rescue and dint expect anything in return. They struggled through days and nights months together to ensure the fear was minimized amongst the public. The work involved with ensuring the patients were taken to safety in the ambulances, they were treated well, dig the ground zero to excavate more bodies, etc. they were never directed what to do and never thought of doing it for some returns in the future. But to their dismay they never realized what would happen to them.

The feature talks about how the 9/11 rescue workers were diagnosed with health problems relating to respiratory issues, mental stability, etc. Regina turned out to have acute respiratory problems where she ended up barely able to breathe and had to go through continuous torture of coughing. Then America declared true heroes of 9/11 – the rescue workers who came forward to offer a helping hand – the fire department, the cops, etc, etc. Likes of Regina were lost in the crowd for their contribution to the society. They were neglected and still battling with the illness they got along being part of the rescue team.

Now comes the crux of the story - Regina, was forced to quit her job as her health conditions were not favoring her work. She could barely have a peaceful sleep as the condition got worse. In return, the government din’t do anything to rescue her. Her health policy dint do much either. She was forced to move out of New York and relocate to the outer part of the city as she could barely keep up with her expenses. She had 2 kids to take care off and all her savings went by in taking care of medical bills and kids education. There was no inflow of money of whatsoever. When she approached the 9/11 rescue compensation she was declined several times. The medical bills just kept shooting up like never imagined.

John on the other hand had developed a serious case of lung issues. He was treated, mind you on his own expenses, for most of the days with several medications. He could barely be out of his artificial respiratory equipment.

Dona, suffered with mental trauma and was diagnosed with acute migraine the worst of her several medical conditions. She was forced to move into her daughter’s basement popping at least 9 medications everyday.

Sadly there were countless of Regina’s, John and Dona.

Mr. Moore got to learn that America’s Health Policy was doing no good for America and wanted to explore one place at least in the country where medication was free. Surprisingly he found one at last. It was none other than Guantanamo Bay where the deadliest of terrorists were held!!!

The terrorists who threatened USA and were now part of the G Bay were treated with state of the art medical facilities that were being charged with atrocious amount to the Americans. Difficult to digest? So was it for me. The medical facility in the prison catered to every need of the prisoners and the best of all they dint have to pay a penny. At times I wonder, would Regina, John and Dona had to be the terrorists so to claim the medical expenses rather than being rescue workers? Sadly, will never get an answer for that.

Mr. Moore decided to do something for the rescue workers. One fine morning, he gathered many of the rescue workers and took them in a boat to G Bay. Well not exploring the details of how he managed to go to G Bay, he finally landed in Cuba. He then dared to go close to the G Bay periphery and called out for help to treat the rescue workers. His words were – “I am here with the 9/11 rescue workers who need medical attention not more and not less than those who were the core of 9/11 terrorism. Please let me through”. For obvious reason to the US Government his calls were not entertained and answered to. He had no choice but to return. But the medical conditions of the rescue workers were getting worse. So he decided to take them to the Guantanamo city. Nothing but surprise awaited his entry.

Cuba as most would recall was one of the countries which America saw as a threat and was branded evil. Fidel Castro still remains notorious in the history as quoted by USA. I am choosing to restrain myself on the political view of Cuba and USA and move on to Mr. Moore’s perspective.

Mr. Moore remembered of his childhood days where Cubans were treated as a threat and would come and kill Americans. So long, he knew them for the identity as told to him. As a child he was asked to be careful with the Cubans and was advised to be away from them for his own good.

However, he encountered a different Cuba altogether. Cubans actually assisted Mr. Moore and his teams with the local medical stores and the nearby hospitals.

When Mr. Moore and the rescue workers went to one of the medical stores, they were shocked to find out the cost of a breathing pump for respiratory problems was 5 cents whereas in USA Regina ended up paying $150 each pump!!!

However, Regina was asked to get the prescription from the local hospital and was advised by the attendant in the medical store, of a very reputed hospital close by.

When the entire group went to the local hospital, all they were asked to disclose was their names and DOB and did not have to consult any Health Care consultant, be referred to a listed service by the Health Care Policy and not even show their identity. The hospital solely believed in one aspect, the patients came to them for assistance and it is their responsibility to treat them humanly irrespective of their nationality.

The entire group was admitted into the hospital and they were treated with the best to their imagination. They were advised of their ailments and prescribed accordingly. Dona was taken off from 5 medications out of her 9. John was diagnosed with acute Bronchitis and was further advised to go for different scans.

It was nerve wrecking when the undiscovered real heroes of 9/11 were actually relying on their neighbors when it came to actual rescue. They were treated with dignity, respect and humanity. They dint have to bother about their medical bills as they were once been part of the rescue team saving lives. One could hardly imagine the flow of emotions that they experienced when they were treated the way they deserved. Regina had tears in her when she heard that they don’t have to be worried about anything. It was very depressing to watch them when they hugged the doctors and cried like babies.

On their way back from hospitals, the local fire department learnt of their arrival and invited them to visit the department. When the rescue team arrived to the location they were greeted with an ovation by all the officers. The officers went on to speak about how grateful they were to have the rescue team who actually worked in Ground Zero. The scene was moving to be watched. The rescue team was given sweat shirts with the Cuban fire department logo and a heartfelt hug from the officers.

Now USA considers Cuba to be a threat to their nation. But for the rescue team, it hardly took anytime to realize who the real threat was. Americans to their fellow Americans? - Hardly a difficult answer to the layman.

What amuses me is the decision of a country to provide security to those who threatened the very soul of the country. Infact the cost of ensuring the terrorists safety ran into millions. And for USA it was fairly well considered to spend such in millions as they were the terrorists! G Bay was one of the exclusive places so to say.

It so is the same with every country when it comes to securing the terrorists in prison. Ajmal Kasab, the sole terrorist who was caught during the 26/11 terrorist attack in India was highly protected prisoner – reason he killed many people and terrorized the nation. The cost to ensure his security was somewhere around 30 lakhs in a month, the last I followed months ago. I found no reason to follow such news when the country decides it is ok to spend such a huge amount on a terrorist rather than killing him. At times, democracy threatens the nation more than it ensures safety.

But how can I comment, likes of me are the one with least knowledge of political views. However, all I know and realize is the need of a miracle to be more of a human that we actually are and strength and courage to stand for what we think is right.

Do I have it? Do you have it? Does anybody have it? What does it take for a normal human being to stand out and fight against the atrocities that the governments rules? Remains a mystery!

It is a defeated fight when all one does is read, comment and not ACT!

When will there be sunshine? When one can remain fearless to those who dictate their terms to the mass!

A revolution is what is needed. Not the kinds to get fame, but the kinds which is heart felt. It need not necessarily be with full of blood but should necessarily be from the bleeding heart.

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