Friday, 4 July 2014

Desperate for health care in the richest country

• Journalist Jon Danzig with British philanthropist, Stan Brock
Last night I met Stan Brock, founder of ‘Remote Area Medical’ which gives free acute medical care to hundreds of thousands of poor people in the world’s richest nation – the USA.

Stan’s huge travelling and air-borne health-care clinics started in 1985 by providing basic medical help to poor people in the remotest areas of some of the world’s poorest countries, such as Guyana.

But the demand by countless Americans, who cannot afford any healthcare or health insurance because of the exorbitant costs, meant that most of Stan’s voluntary work ended up taking place in the USA. 

Most of the patients require urgent and often critical dental or eye care, and hundreds at a time line up at each mobile clinic from 3 am desperate for their only chance to fix excruciating dental pain or chronic poor eyesight. 

All Stan’s doctors and dentists give their time for free, even paying for their own flights and hotels to attend each of the mobile clinics that are huge operations, often held in school gymnasiums, warehouses or tents.  Stan, an ex-cowboy who hails from Bournemouth, England runs the show – and each clinic always starts on time, to the minute.  His organisation receives no government funding, relying entirely on donations.

Last night at the Global Health Film Initiative – of which I'm a committee member – we showed the film about Stan’s amazing initiative at the Royal Society of Medicine, followed by a panel discussion.  Stan said he recognises that his operation isn't a long-term solution to the problem of those who are denied access to medical support simply because… they are poor.  “In the USA we have the world’s best healthcare,” said Stan, “but only if you can afford it.”  Currently, 44 million Americans live without health care.

I implore everyone who wants to see the UK’s National Health Service replaced with an American system of healthcare to watch the film, ‘Remote Area Medical’.  For sure you will be shocked – and you will change your mind.   

Other articles by Jon Danzig:

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