According to statistics from the World HealthOrganization, everyday more than 16000 children die before the age of fivebecause of malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia etc. but the most impressive fact isthat a child from sub Saharan African is 14 times more likely to be in those16000 than any child in other parts of the world. These statistics raise one ofthe most debated philosophical questions in the healthcare system, is healthcare a right or a privilege? Dr. Kathryn Anastos, a doctor from New York in1992 once said”It is unconscionable that weration health care by the ability to pay… Health care should be a given.” And like Dr Kathryn there are many activist,politicians and physiologist that share her point of view in the healthcaresystem. Basic Healthcare should be a given no matter your age, sex oreconomical status. But even if you agree with this point of view, a secondquestion arises, how do we define basic healthcare? In other words what levelof health care should be provided to everyone? And here is where it comes inconflict with the opposing view.
Aprivilege is often defined as “a special right,advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person orgroup.” And just as there are many supporters for healthcare being a rightthere are many that support healthcare as being a privilege. To understand theview of those that support healthcare as a privilege, think of it this way. Inour early days in school we are taught that a person’s basic needs includefood, water and shelter. Yet you cannot go to a restaurant and ask for food andnot pay because it is your basic “need” or not pay your mortgage because youneed a shelter. These are all necessities for our survival yet they are notrights or simply given away for free. So something as healthcare should also besomething we should pay for.
While both side of the table raisesome important points a Professor of HealthResearch and Policy in Stanford University, Laurence Baker suggests “that one wayto think about the debate is that healthcare can be similarly divided intocertain categories, basic goods that everyone deserves access to and luxury goodsthat one ought to have to elect to pay for.” In simpler words healthcare should be considered both a basic right anda privilege. But even with this point of view, it is scary to think thatdespite the great advances in technology and many countries developing a solidhealthcare system, thousands die every day due to the lack of medications ormedical equipments that should be readily available to everyone.