Monday, February 10, 2014

Dr Kaseba's example
By Editor
Tue 19 Nov. 2013, 14:00 CAT

DR Christine Kaseba's selfless work deserves recognition and praise.

This is not to say Dr Kaseba is the only medical doctor in this country working very hard and in a selfless way. We are sure there are other doctors who can equal her. But Dr Kaseba provides something unusual, something we don't see every day - an unusual leadership. And her selfless work reminds us of the work of Dr Ernesto Che Guevara and Dr Agostinho Neto.

Dr Kaseba has many responsibilities and could spend her time differently. Going to treat fellow citizens who desperately need a doctor is certainly not an act of charity on her part. This is true solidarity with one's disadvantaged and marginalised fellow citizens, fellow human beings. And true solidarity has never been an act of charity, it's a duty. Caring for the sick is a calling from God of a special dignity and importance, not just another job or another business.

Health care is really an imitation of Jesus who saw healing the sick as central to his ministry of establishing the Kingdom of God.
We may not be able to do what Dr Kaseba is doing because we don't have her training as a medical doctor, but we can share the charity of loving visits and tender hands and also promote the justice of good health policies and adequate medicines. There is no future development without healthy citizens. And one cannot claim to uphold the sanctity of life if there is no provision for minimal health care for all. Life is sacred, a gift from God to be valued from the moment of conception until death. As Christians, we are to reach out, in compassion and solidarity, to all sick members of the body of Christ.

It is your fellow human being, especially the one who lacks life and needs justice, in whom God wishes to be served and loved. They are the ones with whom Jesus identified.

We are also reminded that faith without deeds is worthless; as James stated: "What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and filled,' without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit? So faith, by itself, if it has no works, is dead" (James 2:14-17).

Clearly, our way of life is the result of what we believe. To Jesus' way of thinking, there is nothing more sacred than the right to life.
While we greatly value the generous dedication to service of many of those who work in the medical field, we cannot ignore that the quality of medical care is often seriously inadequate - patients being unattended to for long periods of time; lack of commitment on the part of some personnel; the failure to recognise each patient as one's brother or sister in need, and so on and so forth. We therefore invite all our health workers to follow Dr Kaseba's example and serve every patient without exception with responsibility and true dedication.

Without doubt the most serious problem we have is the acute shortage of health centres to cater for the population and a critical shortage of personnel. This is priority which a society cannot ignore if it wishes to be a caring and compassionate community. It must be recognised that if this problem has to be tackled, it will demand the allocation of more resources to the state through taxes.

The enjoyment of the right to adequate standard of living entails adequate and equal access to health services for all. This requires an acknowledgement of the problems that beset health services and the willingness to tackle them. Dr Kaseba's work and example is calling for attention to this and therefore needs the support of all citizens of goodwill.

Equality among citizens and the demands of justice call for policies which aim at providing adequate healthcare for all without distinction.

Absolute equality of access to health care for all citizens is difficult to achieve. However, this is an ideal which must be striven for. The guiding principle determining whether a patient will receive priority treatment ought not be that patient's apparent usefulness or the parent's position in society. Rather, every person, whether rich or poor, educated or not, blood relative or not, has equal right to receive healthcare. The practice of stealing and reselling medicines seriously threatens this right.

We wish to pay tribute to the achievement of the government in extending health services with the aim of providing the best possible care for all. And the notable contribution of the churches through their extensive networks of hospitals and health centres is deserving of special praise. At the same time, we are aware of the severe difficulties which the health services are experiencing at present.

Again, the enjoyment of the right to adequate standard of living would be enhanced if our economic lives are animated by the Christian value of loving your neighbour as yourself. This value is embodied in the principle of the common good and solidarity. At the heart of the Christian gospel is Christ's commandment: "Love your neighbour as yourself" (Mark 12:31). If everything we did was measured in terms of this instruction, we could be sure of acting justly in all matters. But it is sometimes difficult to apply such a broad statement to our everyday activities, especially when we are dealing with the complex and highly-structured area of economics. It is often hard to know what exactly the consequences of our economic choices will be. Let us consider, therefore, some of the concrete measures of 'love of neighbour' developed by our churches, which we can use to guide our economic actions and decisions.

Throughout history, people have been bound together in community with one another. As it is sometimes said, human beings are "social animals"; we depend upon each other for our wellbeing and development, and it is impossible for any of us to live full human lives as isolated individuals. From this, it is clear that we have duties and responsibilities towards each other, and that we should order our lives in such a way that we advance not only our interests, but the interests of the whole community. Indeed, the only way in which we can truly advance our own interests is by recognising and promoting the community's interests, or in other words, the common good. This does not mean that there is no room for personal advancement, or that we should put aside our own desires and ambitions and concern ourselves exclusively with the good of the rest of the community. It means rather, that we must find our own interests within the framework laid down by the common good. We must recognise that what is good for the community is good for us, and what is bad for the community is bad for us. And because we are bound together and dependent on each other, it is an illusion to think that a choice which harms the community can, in the long run, be anything but harmful to us as individuals.

Our awareness of the importance of the common good leads us to order our lives and adapt our behaviour accordingly. We adopt an attitude of solidarity towards others and towards the whole community; we become aware of the needs and concerns of others, and 'make them our own'. Solidarity is not simply a question of feeling sorry for others, a vague notion of wanting to contribute to their wellbeing, but a joining with others in a deep commitment to the common good. As such, it acts as a clear and powerful motivation, a guideline for the way we live our lives. This is why we attach great importance to the work Dr Kaseba is doing and the example she is setting for us all.

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