10 Oct 2009

Born on the wrong side of the world


Our friend Samuel from Adís died the day before yesterday. He had been fighting for years to recover from the gangrene in his leg. He was 34 years old.

Due to the last operation and the antibiotics that we sent him from Spain, it looked as if he was finally beating this problem but septic shock put an end to his life.
He had been optimistic and looking forward to the future since for the last few years and after the last operation he was suffering no pain in his leg.
He had made plans to set up an Internet café by using the second hand, repaired laptops that we have been sending. He had intended to take up the position at the checkout which would have meant that he could rest his leg and not have to move around too much.

It makes you wonder. What would Samuel's life have been like if he had been born in Spain? Would he be alive today?
He probably arrived at the hospital and they didn't have the materials or medicines to help cure him right from the first day.

This is the lack of healthcare experienced by millions of people who are born on the wrong side of the world.
Meanwhile, here we are, on the right side of the world worrying about how we just might catch swine flu etc...
Thousands of people are dying daily throughout the world due to the lack of basic First Aid and common vaccines and the large international organisations do not seem to care.
At the end of the day , the poor cannot afford to buy their medicines and only become useful as guinea pigs when new medication trials are under way. These new medicines when proved safe will then be used by those of us who live on the right side of the world.

Which reminds me, the children in Cuba who suffer from eye tumours, which are very common over there, are unable to have special ocular radiotherapy treatment because the United States of America prohibits the sale of the materials necessary. The US has also banned the sale of medical scan machines. We managed to take over a German manufactured one. Japan would not sell us one to take to Cuba. Many countries will not supply Cuba with certain types of equipment that we use daily to treat cancer.

The doctors in Cuba have to use radiotherapy on the child's face instead of using the more specialised equipment directed at the eye. This treatment can cause the appearance of large tumours and deform the child's face and result in a terrible death. This was the fate of 12 year old Ernesto. We met several years ago when I was taking over medication to the children's cancer unit in the Oncological Institute of Havana.

I dedicate this message to all of the Samuels and Ernestos who were born on the wrong side of the world, where not only  poverty reigns but the cruelty and self-interest of those who govern.

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