Health versus Wealth — there can only be one winner, right?

I’m lost, what exactly is going on now?

It’s been a surreal few weeks for me. From feeling tuned in I really could not tell you where we are and what policies are forming the foundation of the new-normal. 

Photo by I.am_nah on Unsplash

I no longer say I’m working from home. I’m just working like many fortunate people I know. I will continue to say fortunate because I’m not one of the millions who have fallen victim to the real world pains of having lost his or her job in retail, hospitality and other sectors. 

What is going to be the true impact of unemployment? Will children be back at school in September at the expense of pubs opening? Are you travelling on your holidays when in the last week alone when you were sunning abroad or on the coast of the UK, the national rate has been rising everywhere?

  • So, what is actually going on now?
  • What is the policy?
  • What are the rules?
  • What do we believe in now?
  • A second national lockdown?
  • A partial lockdown?
  • A cure for the virus in the form of hydroxychloroquine?

I’ve had to sit back like you I’m sure and watch many theories play out, all the while “behaving” as normal as can be.

We are no longer talking about the death rate of Covid since the tragic death of the first person to die from Covid-19 in the UK (an 80 year old woman with no underlying health conditions) She mattered as have all the people who have died since. 

Do we actually have to choose?

A friend of mine said “health versus wealth”. It struck a chord with me because the conversation is firmly focused on the economy right now yet there is a clear correlation between the health of the nation and Covid fatalities. 

Obesity kills 30,000 people in the UK each year. I didn’t know this. I knew it was bad but I’m not looking at stats all the time. I mean, if 62% of the nation is overweight we have a serious problem, right? Especially if being obese makes you more vulnerable to the virus. 

The thing is there are cures for obesity. Whether these are lifestyle changes, the lifting of many groups out of poverty, education or a complete ban on certain products and advertising….there is an underlying cure. But the cures get pushed aside which is ironic. 

There is no official cure for Covid-19 in most countries yet. Notice I said “most”, not all. I’ll get to this later. 

We are no longer talking about the death rate of Covid. How many people died from Covid-19 today in the UK? Do you know? Do you care?

Now, my last statement is not intended to offend but rather highlight the apathetic nature of what is communicated to the masses. From being rooted to the daily briefings and watching the interest wither away to now not knowing what is actually going on in Whitehall. I just know that 830 people are in the House of Lords. 830 people! What do they do?

A broad focused policy on the health of the nation would be wonderful but right now it’s key that some establishments whose food contributes to the obesity problem must be re-ignited for the economy to reignite itself. Herein lies the contradiction and conflict of health and wealth.

The advertising will continue but wouldn’t it be great to have an overload of health and fitness for the nation in advertising, schools, supermarkets? Would it work? 

What, there is a cure for Covid?

I said most countries do not have a cure. Well, it depends in what camp you fall into. So the media named her a “quack doctor” who passionately defended the use of hydroxychloroquine to save patients diagnosed with Covid. It became a circus in a week where the president of the US was supporting a Nigerian born doctor and pastor on this claim. 

Personally, I’m not a medical expert by any means and know little of what the World Health Organisation (WHO) actually does. They have rejected hydroxychloroquine as a cure and this doctor was silenced from social media for fake news and her background discredited. But what about the drug itself?

I decided to get other peoples’ medical opinions on this. Those with actual knowledge in this area. It turns out that hydroxychloroquine has been used in many countries around the world with positive results. So why has it been rejected by the WHO? 

I mean if it works then Mr Trump gets to save lives but if a vaccine is in the works then Mr Trump stands to encounter a wave of billions for the pharma companies which benefits the US immensely. Yes, health versus wealth. But is it too simplistic to look at things like this. 

Do you remember this statement “No evidence ‘Madagascar cure’ for Covid-19 works, says WHO”. Let’s change the narrative to this. “No evidence ‘UK cure’ for Covid-19 works, says WHO” In fact why not change the country for one in the “first world” (I dislike the term first world but you get what I mean). It’s unthinkable a cure for Coronavirus could come out of an African country, right? 

Herein lies the issue — it can ONLY be viable if it comes from a handful of nations. The wealthy ones. Furthermore, a western one. 

Rather than seeking a global cure, the politics is playing out to make sure the balance of health and wealth is “manageable”. I mean, if Madagascar has a cure that works, it could mean essentially this nation could turn its GDP on its head and compete with western nations. But it can’t happen. It cannot be allowed to happen. 

The long tail effect

The other day I ventured out to the supermarket to stock up on a few provisions. It’s become a safer place to go now and masks were worn by pretty much everybody. 

Sam was the cashier. He was not well. Rather than the British standard reply of “I’m fine”, he wasn’t. He had taken three months off earlier in the year for a back problem and was working through the pain now because he needs the job. What do we make of Sam’s “health versus wealth” problem? 

Yeah, I’m the purist that says “health comes first”, but he was shuffling the food on the conveyor belt in pain looking at me and his painful expression said “I will have no wealth if I look after my health” which means “I will have no money for food and shelter”…which in turn will lead to severe health, both mental and physical. So in short, the long tail effect of health versus wealth is quite complicated. 

Mirror this with the balancing act practically every government is trying to manage in terms of opening up the economy against the increased spread of the virus. It’s a learnt response to a system they are unwilling to really address. A system built on excess and now we are stuck in the middle of that. 

Will any government go against the grain? How would it look like? I certainly don’t have all the answers but it “feels” it should be different from what is happening now and I get a feeling in a couple of months’ time it will become even more potent that a real change will need to happen. Maybe only then will we be having a different conversation around health versus wealth.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *