The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Photo credit: Nick Shockey / nshockey.express@gmail.com
A letter from the editor
February 6, 2024

Healthcare is a right not a privilege

Healthcare is a right not a privilege

Before each holiday season begins, the flu season arrives. Depending on how active the season is and how virulent the strain is, in influenza or the flu virus claims between 3,000 and 49,000 lives each year, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. For people who have health insurance, a flu vaccine or access to early treatment often leads to a quick recovery.

However, despite the new health care law, there are still many who do not have access to medical care. Moreover, until health care and preventative treatments like vaccines are made available to everyone, we are all at risk of contracting something worse than the flu.

In 2014, the Affordable Care Act provided coverage to many uninsured Americans through Medicaid expansion. But many people who fall below the federal poverty line continue to go uninsured. Some still do not realize they are eligible for insurance under the ACA. And though the law expands coverage for U.S. citizens, it does not address health care access for undocumented immigrants, many of whom work, reside and pay taxes in this country.

According to the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, there were 41 million uninsured citizens in 2013. With the ACA, most of the population will qualify for some coverage, but health care for many of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. is confined to hospital emergency room treatment.

In October, the Sacramento City College Health Services Office released a bulletin on current health topics. The announcement reminds people to get a flu vaccine and warns about the non-polio enterovirus. And, of course, it touches on Ebola, the virus from West Africa dominating the fall news cycle.

While scientists and government officials debate the risks of Ebola, we are reminded of another virus that stormed the globe over 30 years ago. Like Ebola, HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has roots in Africa. And Ebola, like HIV, first preyed on the disenfranchised of society.
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Most experts seem to agree there is little likelihood of an Ebola pandemic, and maybe they are right. But in the late 1970s and early 1980s many experts felt the same way about AIDS. Our political and scientific leaders treated the HIV outbreak as a geographic problem and then later as a social problem affecting only gay people or IV drug users. A serious response to HIV and AIDS did not come until after the nation’s blood supply was infected.

Today, in the United States, HIV is considered a chronic condition and no longer a terminal diagnosis. However, for many living in third world countries who do not have access to health care, it is a death sentence. And while a vaccine may be the only way to stop a virus, access to health care for everyone is the only way to prevent an outbreak.

All viruses have different origins, but most share a common thread—the infection first spreads throughout the poorest of communities and flourishes in the worst of living conditions.

When it comes to epidemics and pandemics, the building blocks are almost always the same. Contaminated water, unreliable food supplies and no access to preventative medicine create fertile breeding grounds for some nasty diseases.

We all need to wash our hands and get a flu shot, but we also need to take a step further and advocate for worldwide healthcare. Providing preventative medical treatment strengthens both national security and economy. As human beings and as Americans in a civilized, modern society we should view healthcare as a right for all and not a privilege for some. And it is a moral imperative that we not turn our backs on people who cannot afford or do not have access to health care—not just for ourselves but for humanity.  The next super-flu or deadly blood borne virus is likely just around the corner. When it strikes—it may not stop with the poor, and it likely will not pay attention to sovereign borders or an individual’s tax bracket.

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