While the Hippocratic Oath doesn’t contain the phrase referenced in the title of this article, it is considered its underlying principle. Just like a blindfolded Lady Justice (who originally was not depicted with blindfolds, but that is a discussion for another post), healthcare is supposed to be administered without concern for the patient’s religious beliefs, economic status, race, nationality, sexual orientation, and gender. In the case of Thomas Eric Duncan, the system failed.
How does a patient with 103 degree fever, vomiting, and a reported pain level of 8 on a scale of 10 get sent home with some antibiotics? The Reverend Jesse Jackson is now representing Mr. Duncan’s family and injecting race into the equation. I am not certain that race is a factor, but I’m also not certain that race isn’t a factor. What I do think though is that his level of care was based on his socio-economic standing and his lack of citizenship. Take a look at this CNN article. The article is interesting because it delineates the difference in care Mr. Duncan received versus other Ebola victims treated in the U.S. but what is more concerning to me are the comments posted. The general thread is that he lied (not true, his information was not reported to people who could have made a difference), came here for free healthcare, and since he’s not a citizen we owe him nothing. It’s the last statement that concerns me most. Since when do our morals and values end at our borders? If that were the case, we’d station our military along our borders and demolish the State Department.
A common view you will see on this site is our belief that human rights supersedes politics. If as a nation we want to project our moral authority, we need to practice what we preach by not picking and choosing which international crises we decide to engage in. Whether its Rwanda, Kobani, or Ebola, we as a nation should stand behind our moral obligations and values.