Health disparity is one of the biggest challenges facing the healthcare system. WHO stipulates that healthcare should be affordable available and accessible to all individuals disregarding their social status, age, sex, ethnicity, race, disability or sexual orientation. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention concurs with WHO but states that, despite the efforts to make health for all a reality, many socially disadvantaged population groups cannot still access healthcare services, or if they can, they receive a lesser healthcare service compared to the general population. I have experienced many situations of health disparities, but one that caught my most attention involved an old lady who was under my care.
The old lady had been suffering from a heart complication for more than a decade. Consequently, she had been on and off the hospital, and the situation was worsening given her ripe age. Late 2013, the cardiologist recommended a pacemaker, a quiet expensive gadget. The family made the arrangement and raised the funds that were required for the surgery. The hospital had only one pacemaker remaining in the stock, and the next consignment of pacemakers was to be delivered one month after date set for the surgery. On the eve of the operation, I received a call from the cardiologist requesting me to visit her in her office early the following morning.
Early the following morning I went to see the cardiologist as we had agreed. As I had expected the problem was involved the old lady. The cardiologist explained to me that the previous day she had received a patient with the same condition as the old lady’s. The patient was a 13-year -old girl who equally needed an urgent heart surgery. Because there was only one pacemaker remaining, the cardiologist informed me that she had to cancel the operation of the old lady. She scheduled it for following month when the pacemakers’ consignment would have arrived or in two fortnights if the hospital succeeded in acquiring one. She did not give reasons for her change of mind but I think the girl was given priority because she was still young and had many years to live so saving her life was more important than the old lady’s who was approaching her 76th birthday.
The girl also needed to go back to school as soon as possible whereas the old lady had no pressing tasks ahead, as may had been assumed by the cardiologist. Even though, the lady could still survive on drugs until the time suggested by the cardiologist. I felt that the decision was unfair; the lady deserved to live just as everyone else moreover, had pressing tasks ahead, for example, keeping her personal hygiene, taking a walk and visiting her grandchildren.
Global Health Declarations. (n.d.). WHO. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from http://www.who.int/trade/glossary/story039/en/
Minority Health Determines the Health of the Nation. (n.d.). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved October 6, 2014, from http://www.cdc.gov/omhd/default.htm