Monday, January 11, 2010
I've been thinking about some medical ethics. There is one chapter in his book that is devoted to the elimination of the polio virus. I believe that the extinction of polio and other diseases, like smallpox, from most countries in the world is a tribute to the tenacity and dedication of mankind. The fight against polio is still going on in less developed countries, such as India. Once a case of polio pops up, a massive immunization of 4 million children surrounding that village takes place within three days. It is hard to imagine how one goes about planning the logistics of that kind of operation. It takes millions of dollars to pull an operation like this off, and it is hard not to wonder if the money could be better used somewhere else. It's a tough decision. I mean, why was polio chosen as the disease that has to be eliminated, no matter the cost? Granted, it can be lethal, affects mostly children, and leaves many survivors paralyzed for life in its wake. But many other diseases and conditions exist that kill more people than polio, such as malaria and malnutrition. The money used for polio could be used to change things that would have a greater affect on the death toll, such as building wells for clean water, better nutrition for children, an irrigation system so that crops wont fail as often, improving local hospitals, or developing a better system for disposing waste. A person who is paralyzed from polio will die of hunger just like a person who isn't paralyzed.
I guess you can make that claim for anything for that matter. Decisions have to be made. What should we focus on? Eliminating polio from the planet can be a definite success for humanity, a gift for future generations. Our grandchildren will die of something, but it wont be polio.