Learning from Patch Adams
“You treat a disease, you win, you lose. You treat a person, I’ll guarantee you’ll win.” Patch Adams [A biographical comedy/drama movie, 1998]. In this debate on COVID-19: To vaccinate or not to vaccinate is not the question, but who and where are the people in all of this and how does the “State” regard and engage its citizens. It is clear from the start that the “State” regards its citizens as takers/receivers of the State’s benevolence, and therefore should be grateful for what is dished out: “Just eat and say “thank you Comrade, for a wonderful provision”. Hence the State engages its citizens from a hierarchical height of: “I know what is best for you.” And the irony is that the State is saying: “I am doing this because “I love you.”But there is a moral dilemma here for “love cannot coerce, and cannot be coerced!” We cannot make a charitable decision if we feel coerced. Forcing the will by bribe, threat, or punishment is against all moral principles.
Mixed Messages: It is clear to all that the “Scientific and medical” information reaching the public is confusing and problematic for its lack of consistency. Individuals have traditionally consulted with their family/personal physicians on matters of their health-care. Suddenly the State is over-riding this relationship by its mandates. Moreover, these mandates violate the State’s own promulgated document: “The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Charter of Patient Rights and Responsibilities’ Saturday October 30th 2019 so openly displayed in the Accident and Emergency foyer of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, Kingstown. The charter sets out the Patient’s Rights and Responsibilities.
Under the section: “Medical Consultation and Decision Making” it states:
“No medical procedure shall be performed on someone without that person’s informed consent.”
“The patient is entitled to know in advance the object, purpose and details of any course of medicine proposed for him or her, and the results of that course of action after its performance … a patient has the right to a concise explanation in lay terms of the proposed procedure and alternatives … the explanation shall provide information on significant risks, side effects or effects. After receiving information about his or her condition and proposed remedies during medical consultation a patient may decide to either accept or refuse any treatment or medical investigation.
A patient is also entitled to receive reports with explanatory notes on his or her medical condition and treatment directly or through a third party health professional.
The patient has the right to understandable and adequate information on prescribed medication, The medicine must be effective and safe. A patient is not obligated to participate in research studies.
This charter sets people at the centre of medical care. It seems to promise care not cure. In this COVID-19 affair we are treating the disease and not the people. If it were not so, how can we explain the push for multiple vaccinations for all when the science teaches us that in any given population certain inherent traits pre-dispose some members of that population to tolerance/ resistance/ immunity to some infections. Why are we not giving people the opportunity to use alternative treatments to combat this disease? It is well established that an adequate balanced diet, plenty of clean water used both in and out of the body, fresh air, sunshine, exercise, adequate rest and Faith in God promote a healthy immune system. These seven things address people, and healthy people resist disease.
Finally, we must feel/have compassion for our citizens and make attempts to facilitate them in their quest for fulfilment and happiness. We must do what the citizens’ need to stay healthy. This mandatory vaccination drive may win the State the battle against COVID but surely not the war for the citizens’ hearts. It is immoral to use coercion to override a person’s conscience. It is immoral to deny the citizen the right to life when he has not committed any crime against the State or another person by which act he may forfeit his life. How is the State infringing the citizen’s right to life? Remember that “he who takes away that which supports my life, takes away my life.” I am in solidarity with all those Police Officers, Teachers and Health Professionals and every other citizen who refuse to allow the State to erode our God-given freedom to choose to be people and not part of a “herd”; who choose to have a say in our health care! I am not a robot!