Saturday, February 20, 2010


Haiti - What a tragedy. How long will it take to create order out of this disorder? Perhaps 10 -20 years will come and go before we can say job done, and it may be fifty or more before we can think of saying ‘job well done’

It is inspiring to see and hear of the thousands who have left home and jobs to help the victims of this catastrophe. But it puzzles me how quickly suffering beyond our borders is seen while the suffering in front of our noses is rarely seen.

Clearly it is not a reluctance to assist others distant form us. Witness Haiti and the tsunami of 2004. However, we seem reluctant to assist those close to us. Is it because we cannot acknowledge that suffering of similar magnitude occurs within our borders? To do so, we would have to accept that there are two Americas. With just less than twenty percent of our citizens unable to afford health insurance, if we are honest with ourselves, this dichotomy is not deniable.

Having personally seen how ‘my neighbors’ live without health insurance in Arkansas, Missouri, and Connecticut, and having heard how they get by in Texas and Louisiana, I know that there is much suffering here in our country and it is not limited to one area. It is everywhere one cares to look.

As a physician for more than forty years, when I think about those of us who live without the security of health insurance, it is clear that our current system of health care, dominated by private insurance, has deprived them of many of the advances of current medical practice. Could there be a better reason for reform?

There are several ways of responding to this home-grown crisis. One is working at a free clinic ( One can also speak to his/her congress person. If we all call our representatives on February 24th during the president’s health summit, we be assisting those American citizens who need as much help as the refugees of the Haitian earth quake or the Indian Ocean tsunami.

Ralph B.Freidin,MD Boston,MA

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