‘Healthscare’: A case of misplaced priorities?

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

The Sermon on the mount contains the grandeur of the ideals of Christ, somehow it makes me think that Jesus revealed the peak of his teaching incidentally at the top of the mountain, his foundational teaching was taught on toughest rock clad mount. The summarization of what God expects was clearly laid out on those three chapters in Matthew, that’s the crux of the morals on which Jesus Christ laid the basic values of his Kingdom. I would call it the prioirity list of Christ. In his closing statement of the sermon he ends like this ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God. “In the beginning God set priorities…” , order was the theme of creation and that order exists even now, he functions in a particular order because that’s what gives meaning, purpose and clarity, most importantly it proves his wisdom. What if he had created Man first and everything else? it would have taken out the meaning from all he wanted to accomplish. We too have to set out priorities right, or else we got to face the consequences that comes with it. Jesus gave priority to justice to truth, when pharisees were trying to find fault of him for not following sabbath regulations in healing the sick (Luke 14:1-4). But Jesus knew his priority.We all have at some point in time in our life have misplaced our priorities and would have faced the brunt, and may be learnt out of it. No, this is not a Bible study on priorities, its a wake up call for Nations, Governments and People who have misplaced the priorities. Misplaced priorities can become sin against God, and when its in the echelons of highest powers then it brings pain to lot of people.

Sometimes crisis gives us space for analyzing what went wrong and where we went wrong, it also gives us a chance to learn and evolve through it. The COVID-19 crisis is a Global Health crisis thats threatening the whole world, the outbreak has broken many hearts and it has caused such an unexpected trauma to so many people. I hope nobody would have wished for something like this. As I was spending time in prayer and was processing all that took place, one aspect loomed largely in my mind. There are many conspiracy theories about the cause, but its still unknown, but a known factor I was able to understand stuck me real deep. We are in the 21st century, we have come a long way in treating viral diseases, our treatment methods and techniques in handling such outbreaks is far superior than all the foregone centuries but still we were caught unprepared by this virus, we were caught in our neligence, and yeah,we were caught red handed because of our ‘Misplaced Priorities’.

The development and growth of human beings always involved risks, there were necessary risks and there are unnecessary risks, there were unavoidable and avoidable risks in our growth story. For example, the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, 1996 and the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984 in India where thousands of lives lost in a matter of days resulted because of human error and negligence. May be it bypassed the safety nets available to run such an infrastructure because such systems requires careful monitorng at the highest levels. These are unprecedented times,no matter how prepared we are,still it cause damages,but we are looking at this deeply to know whether we have done enough, whether Governments moved in the right direction.

Global Healthcare is vital in this era of mass movements, In his speech in TED talk Microsoft founder Bill Gates had a word to say on what he fears the most for the world in the near future, and he pointed not to a world war 3 but a Global pandemic, he said the nations are not prepared for such big outbreak. I want to call it ‘Healthscare’. There are many Global health isuues which we are not under control, many times things happen beyond humans power over it. But the problem is when we are unprepared and underprepared due to negligence. Does our approach to Healthcare is proactive or reactive. If its reactive, it means ‘Healthscare’. Most of the world countries doesnt see healthcare and education as an important obligation as compared to its defence. Many countries are prepared for its defence and military threats than its health problems. Even many countries who declare themselves as a welfare states, are slowly moving from its primary standards which is evident in their budgets. Many hold on to their same old reaction and repentive stratergy rather than precaution and preventive strategy. One of the indicators to it is the amount of focus that is given to education and healthcare, superpowers are not determine based on their effective healthcare systems and Human development indices, but based on its large economic and military capabilities. Developed countries are identified based on wealth accumulation and not wealth distribution, not on healthcare but on military capacity. I think the fundamental issue is our misplaced focus.

Misplaced Focus:

Therefore, Your Majesty, be pleased to accept my advice: Renounce your sins by doing what is right, and your wickedness by being kind to the oppressed. It may be that then your prosperity will continue. Daniel 4:27

Especially the comparison of budgets allocated to Military and Healthcare gives us an understanding on how unprepared and underprepared we were. As we see even the developed nations with great health and sufficient healthcare systems couldn’t manage the current scenario due to various insufficiencies due to lack of healthcare professionals, ventillators, masks and other healthcare products, why such lack in essential medical services? because we had misplaced priorities for a long period of time. In the below statistical map its evident where we lost the important part of the game. Its not that nobody did anything, but whether we did things right?

Here we see the spending on healthcare in different parts of the world. It might look that most of the developed countries got it right by sheer comparison of numbers in terms of spending on healthcare is higher than military spending, but it has to be noted that it may not be enough since the access to healthcare is covering large population than access to military and defence. It also became evident , how the developed nations too are struggling in the fight against this deadly virus. But on the whole Europe has done well, but it has always a room for improvement in terms modern day healthscares, especially they being the widest travellers naturally they become effective contractors. The most disheartening thing is the countries which has the maximum number of poor and still struggling to give basic healthcare access have spent more budget on military than the healthcare. They can give reasons as hot bed of conflicts,but no excuse for their overspending.Look at the areas where the red dots (Military spending) are bigger than the green ones. Its certainly a case of misplaced priorities. Peacescience Digest states that “When Countries Increase Their Military Budgets, They Decrease Public Health Spending Retrieved May 16, 2019. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).Apr 29, 2019 infers that “World military expenditure grows to $1.8 trillion in 2018.Total world military expenditure rose to $1822 billion in 2018, representing an increase of 2.6 per cent from 2017”. So we do get an understanding through these observations where does a part of our problem lies. Military with right motives have brought stability in many regions and combating terrorism.But have we focused too much on it.

Especially India is a prime example in this category , an article in The Wire observes thatDefence accounts for 11% of India’s overall expenditures and health accounts for 2%. India’s defence allocation this year (2019-2020) is Rs 2,82,733 crore and health allocation is Rs 63,538. The defence budget is 4.8 times the health budget“. This shows that the gap is ever widening between the Healthcare and Military. There is a shortage in Healthcare access in many parts of the nation, there is no primary health centres in villages , there are no adequate health professionals and medical equipments in India, yet India is one of the biggest spenders worldwide in Defence. A very dangerous case of misplaced priorities. More importantly Education and Research Development which contribute greatly to a booming healthcare too gets very less attention than military. There are not enough institutions that contribute to healthcare, interest and opportunities are not created to pursue Medical sciences among all sections of the society. Even if we view Medicare as an urban issue, we should understand the world is only becoming more and more urbanized. So, have we done enough to motivate the caring profession, to encourage them and to support their cause?There is no culture that promote awareness and equal opportunities among the underprivileged, that alone can become a remedy when we are left to face these dire strait situations in the future. What if we are better prepared? What if our focus was in the right place?

Global Mistrust:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? James 4:1

Global mistrust created by divisive agendas in a way causes healthscare.The reason for the spike in Military expenditure is the rise in Global Mistrust.The strength of diplomacy and political non-partisanship is hitting very strange lows in the recent times, consensus building has become a huge task between nations and political parties.Eventhough they do have high level meetings, countries have an uncomfortable mistrust underneath.An identity based populist right wing politics is on the rise across the Globe. There is a rise of hate in the political speeches today both domestically and globally, and in the post war world there is a legitimate space for such mistrust. They shoulld remember that politics has to be for the poor and not for staying in power.The reason also is that our budgets are framed in response to the negativity we see, and every country wants to express its supremacy, and they think that their sovereignity depends on its power to destructive arms, rather than its effective people welfare systems. They convince their spending that the country’s safety and National security as priority, negating the benefits of diplomacy. Safety need not depend on weapons alone, focus on welfare sounds safety,caring for each other spells safety,committed diplomacy spells safety.When it is supposed to be a peace force, military and defence is abused for selfish gains of human pride and vanity, used as tools of threat. It would be great to have a total cancellation of armed military in all nations, and enabling military to be an unarmed disaster management and welfare corporation, many might term this term as greedy. The more and more spending on the weapon system and the less money spent on military personnel themselves shows that we are standing far away from reality, when weapon deals are becoming the primary cause for stratergic partnership between nations shows why my unrealistic dream is a necessity. Sometimes I wonder the stockpile of weapons alone can become a reason for a casual war someday. I think the first step towards a right direction is by having more welfare based cooperations (Healthcare and Education) between countries than the defence deals, that more money be spent on military personnels equipping them for disaster managements and training and recoursing them as welfare professionals than spending millions on defence systems and nuclear weapons,and by being transparent in defence productions and becoming more accountable. Many political parties across the world keeps their nation’s political adversary as a strategy for dividends in politics, and boosting up the military has become a raw political stratergy hence many mock wars, and fake encounters happen because of this.India should focus on developing primary health centres in every village. If they take it as priority, then automatically all the focus on unnecessary issues will take a back seat. The nations must reduce the Global mistrusts by sharing their resources and strengths with other nations which lack it. In the atmosphere of trust alone, a caring based sector like healthcare can thrive and grow. Otherwise it can result in healthscare.

Breached Conventions:

“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well”. 3 John 1:2.

An old proverb says “Health is wealth”.Good health is a human right. Health care doesn’t only relate multi-speciality hospitals, high efficient equipments and high powered medicines. When we talk about universal healthcare, we only think about insurance coverages. Our understanding has become very limited about health benefits. Universal healthcare should fundamentally means awareness towards healthy global practices and hygiene which stays as standard convention in any human system towards good health.Health comes in different ways, as much as we focus on the method and treatment of health problem, are we focusing on ways to promote good health. There are many reasons to good health and many which affects good health? Especially clean air, clean water,healthy food habits and lifestyle. The greatest reasons for healthscare is our focus on reaction and intervention rather than precaution and prevention. Especially Bible too talks about health through precautions right from cleanliness to healthy food habits. Rapid industrialization and automobile waste in the previous century has left our air and atmosphere in a dangerous position, rapid privatisation of water in this century is going to be a huge issue since air and water quality are two primary reasons for good or bad health. Then healthy food habits and lifestyle is important, especially consumerism culture in food have opened way for unhealthy intake, with adulterated and mutatuted food products. Lot of viruses are spread through animals is a reality. Healthy lifestyle includes emotional health, mordern day job stress, work life balance, and also our values play a major role in that Bible says in Proverbs 17:22 “A happy heart is good medicine and a joyful mind causes healing,But a broken spirit dries up the bones”. Physical activity too has many health benefits and adds health to our lifestyle. So healthcare includes precaution and prevention, and not just reaction and intervention. Not only government but also individuals should work towards clean energy and healthier lifestyles. Morality plays a huge role in our healthThere is no health in my bones because of my sin“. Psalm 32:3. We dont generally take this aspect in to consideration, unrighteous ways sometimes causes dangerous sickness. So everybody must take healthcare as a primary responsibility and seek God for healing and peace in our communities. So its important that we dont concede to healthscare due to our misplaced priorities but collectively work towards a better future. But after going through all this are we going to prioritize our focus for the good? Only time will tell!!

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