Book Title: Our Malady – Lessons in Liberty and Solidarity
Author: Timothy Snyder
Publisher: Crown (Google Playbook)
Publication Year: 2020
In terms of healthcare, I believe Malaysians have to count their blessings. The system that is in place allows for some the best medical service in the South East Asia region and this could not be more crucial during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In this book, written by Timothy Snyder, he detailed the shortcomings of the American healthcare system which was already a burden to the people where the systemic issues stemmed from prioritising profits rather than ensuring patients’ health and wellbeing.
Snyder who was admitted to the emergency room of a hospital felt a tingling sensation around his hands and feet along with tremors was only able to have his medical records read by a medical staff after a long and unacceptable nine hours.
The author, whose appendix had been removed at the same hospital two weeks earlier didn’t get the proper care and nearly died of sepsis.
He noted, in a system like America’s, where doctors are pressured by commercially run hospitals to see as many patients as possible, prescribing pills became an easy solution.
This approach contrasts sharply with European systems, according to him, where doctors take time to understand a patient’s circumstances before developing a treatment plan.
A government that doesn’t provide universal health care promotes inequality in society, in his view. A nation that values equality is one in which everyone has access to the care they need, irrespective of their social or economic status.
Snyder also observed that the government must be transparent and accountable at all times, particularly when it comes to dealing with crisis.
The Covid-19 pandemic, which divided Americans of over its authenticity as well as impact could have been better handled had its leaders come clean and take responsibility.
The author noted that it takes effort to seek out information to form an effective strategy and courage to look honestly at a situation. But without doing so, the consequences can be unimaginable. He said, if former president Donald Trump had valued truth over power during the pandemic, perhaps hundreds of thousands of American lives could have been saved.
Leaders who spare people bad news by spreading misinformation ultimately make things worse and in the end contributes to a never-ending cycle of not fixing the problem in the first place.
Snyder noted that the misinformation campaign on Covid-19 had been in place since the start of the pandemic and that instead of addressing it with plans for nationwide testing, the president claimed that the virus would miraculously disappear.
This was followed by a suggestion to administer hydroxychloroquine, a drug used to prevent and treat malaria as well as sacking the federal official who questioned the validity of the suggestion. The litany of misinformation has been the Achilles heel for the American response to Covid-19.
The author also pointed out that the American healthcare system did not value its medical workers, at least not enough to properly equip them in their task to treat Covid-19 patients.
The image conscious hospitals according to him allowed its staff to work in unsafe conditions than risk its reputation. As a result, there were fewer doctors to care for the sick.
Numerous medical professionals across America caught coronavirus after being exposed to it at work. Some of them even died, right at the time when the country needed them the most.
He said despite the country’s huge spending to bail itself out of the pandemic, it was ultimately undone with the lack of leadership in its policymaking which left out those who are with medical knowledge and experience in the front line.
Snyder lamented that profits was the focus of hospitals with them commercially run; when they stopped turning a profit because of the pandemic, some cut costs by firing doctors which puts more strain on the already overloaded system.
In a nutshell, America was already a nation of unhealthy people before Covid-19 due to its commercial medicine and profit-centric policy where even those who could afford insurance didn’t necessarily have access to quality care.
The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the failings of the country’s current health-care system — one insufficiently equipped to protect medical personnel and one that values doctors so little it will fire them for trying to protect their own health.