Privilege and Disease


“Sleepless by many things the poor, for insomnia is a wealthy disease he can’t afford”- Dhirendra Upadhyay 

Eons ago, when Pandora opened her box, all the troubles of the world that exist to this day, were unleashed upon the world. Among others that came out of that cursed Pithos jar, two almost inseparable entities emerged, and have tormented the globe, hand in hand. Disease and poverty; while related, seems very much synonymous, looking at the current state of affairs in our country. For those who lack the privilege of affording basic facilities and cheap, yet quality healthcare, the prospect of leading a fulfilling life, seems grim. 

Privilege; or the state of being privileged, is basically the situation wherein an individual or a certain group is given an undue advantage, be it access to opportunity, resources or services. While some may argue that privilege is mostly due to the merits acquired by an individual, some services like healthcare should be treated as the absolute right of a person. However, rising trends indicate that the cost of medical treatment is increasingly getting out of hand, even for the middle class. 

Firstly, expensive procedures, hiked up costs of drugs and pharmaceutical products, blatant increase in hospitality fees are few of the various issues that plague the common Indian. Effective management of diseases isn’t just about treatment; education and prevention are pretty important aspects as well. Diseases like to thrive in congested, impoverished areas, and infections run rampant, so much that they are termed as ‘poor man’s disease’ by the WHO. These neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) affect over a billion people on our planet, with millions affected on our subcontinent. Gross neglect of sanitary conditions, ventilation and hygienic practices have brought the population to the brink of disaster. An 8th cholera epidemic may be on the cards. Lack of food quality and its general scarcity have lead to the deficiency disorder group of medical illnesses into bouncing back, in recent times. Drugs for cancer, Alzheimer’s, autoimmune diseases are a burden, and cosmetic surgery is a fool’s fancy, unless you’re wealthy. 

Sometimes, it’s not always the cost of healthcare that is the issue, but the mere accessibility. Investing crores of capital in subsidizing healthcare whilst having poor distributing channels is the social equivalent of a waiter ruining the dish on the way to the table. People that live in the remotest regions of the nation still wait for the ‘privilege’ to come their way. Education, awareness and methodological planning are the needs of the hour. 

Alas, to fight the unholy combination of poverty and disease, affordability and accessibility are our greatest champions. We must not forget about the last remaining entity in Pandora’s jar, that is Elpis, the spirit of hope. Disease can affect anyone, even the most privileged among us, even you. One must always remember to never let hope out of the jar, or their life. 

Aakash M Gangadhar

Year of study: Second year MBBS

Institute : Bangalore medical college and research institute (BMCRI), Karnataka

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