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Sunday, November 12th 2006

Comparative Struggles

I suppose we should be greatful American medicine doesn’t look like this.

Some 2,000 people mobbed and ransacked a hospital in southwestern China on Friday in a dispute over medical fees and shoddy health care practices, a human rights group said today.

The unrest erupted after a 3-year-old boy died in the hospital, where he had been rushed for emergency treatment for ingesting pesticides. There were conflicting reports about how much medical care the boy received.

The human rights group said in a statement that essential medical care was denied the boy until his grandfather, who was taking care of him, could pay for the treatment. The boy died after the grandfather left to raise money, the group said.

The Communist Party-controlled government once offered rudimentary medical care for nominal prices in the countryside. But hospitals were left largely to fend for themselves in the rising market economy of the 1990’s.

Many ceased providing even emergency care for people who could not pay hospital fees in cash in advance of treatment.

Then again, even the slightest implication we should be comparing ourselves to second world nations probably is insulting to the expectations we should have for our health care system.