Take a look through my eyes
I had a major operation, it only lasted 3 hours and it was virtually “free”. To me, the whole procedure seemed no longer than a blink of an eye. (Which is ironic because they were operating my eyes.) Medical aid covered the expenses all the way down to air ticket to South Africa where the operation took place.
Advancements in medicine have allowed complicated procedures to be done with such precision over the years. Certain conditions which may have led to complete blindness, deafness or even sudden death are now curable. Though the quest for health normalcy boils down to the depths of one’s pocket. Fortunately, in waltzes medical aid, which hopes to bridge a gap for most people in affording medical care. The question is what about the rest?
The game of remaining healthy remains an expensive one. The question in Africa is how can we move the millions of people who suffer from all sorts of ailments closer to medical care. Is there an opportunity out there for the marginalised to receive the same medical attention that middle class folk receive? I received a corneal transplant a few weeks ago. A procedure which was probably unthinkable a few decades ago is currently done on a weekly basis in South Africa based on the availability of corneas. It is unfortunately inevitable for most patients who suffer from keretoconus. This is a condition where a person’s cornea starts growing thus impairing one’s vision, and leaving the eye vulnerable to infections and ulcers. I was first diagnosed in 2003 and ever since I have tried to manage the condition with contact lenses and all sorts of eye drops.
I cant help but think what the actual cost would have been to our family if my parents hadn’t subscribed to a medical aid. Over the years, I have had to change contact lens and spectacle prescriptions, purchase all forms of medication not to mention visit eye doctors at least once in two months. The whole process would probably cost about N$ 30000 a year without medical aid. It makes one look at the so called evil big corporations with a new set of eyes. Its quite possible that they are here to help. There’s a catch though, medical aid is not free and for most people who don’t suffer from anything chronic and live a rather healthy lifestyle, one can end up paying more in medical aid payments than the actual medical care they receive. Unfortunately human life is fragile and fickle. One never knows when one will be in dire need of medical attention.
I have always supported government that do very little to interfere with the workings of a free market economy but this is one area where I believe they just might make a huge difference. Nothing can be done to reduce the cost of medical equipment and medicines but vast changes can be made (through subsidizing) to make medical procedures and consultation cheaper. A big chunk of medical attention in Africa rests on international support relief structures which unfortunately one day may just run out. An aggressive stance has to be taken by countries to ensure that the labour force remains strong and healthy. This might be the very cornerstone of productivity. Besides, millions of people around the world owe it to medicine and surgery which has allowed them to live a relatively “normal” life.