I have bronchitis. I have had one cold after another for a couple of months now. I normally have a very strong immune system, and I rarely get sick. It has probably been 10 years since I have taken antibiotics. I think that the stress of the past months is catching up with me.
My illness has reminded me of how thankful I am to live in America. A quick call to my doctor’s office, and I had an appointment for 24 hours later. I traveled 25 minutes in my car to the office. After a quick visit with her, I had my diagnosis and a prescription for antibiotics. After another quick trip to the pharmacy, I had the medicine that I need, paying only my small co-pay. I feel crummy now, but within 48 hours I should be much better and I will be able to put my illness behind me.
There is one doctor for every 390 people that live in America. By contrast, in Ethiopia there is one doctor for every 31,000 people. The vast majority of those doctors are located within three urban areas, far, far from the 85% of the population that live in rural areas. Many of those have no access to a vehicle to transport them to a medical facility. Not to mention, no funds to cover medical bills when a doctor’s help is needed.
In the past months I have thought about this every time we have dealt with an illness in our family: every ear infection, sinus infection, and case of bronchitis. Until recently I have always taken for granted our access to medical professionals, medicine, and the health insurance and wealth that we have to pay for it. What if I had no way to get the medicine that Madeline needed for an ear infection, and she ended up losing her hearing? What if my bronchitis turned into pneumonia and I had no access to treatment? For far too many people in the world, this is the reality that they live with. I
n Ethiopia 49% of the population is under the age of 15. AIDS is partly to blame for the deaths of so many in the older generation. But ordinary communicable diseases cause far too many deaths as well. Preventable and treatable diseases. But the people cannot access the doctors and the medicine that they need.
This is so unfair that it makes me cry. Why did God allow me to be born in America? I have done nothing to deserve the privileges that are mine just because of where I live. I do know this – he didn’t give me those privileges because he loves me more than the people of Ethiopia (and the rest of Africa). And he didn’t give them to me just so that I can kick back and enjoy my life of ease and comfort. I have responsibility to help, love, and pray for those whose lives are much more difficult. I still don’t know all the things that will entail for our family. But the adoption of one child is a stepping stone in the path that we are walking. Our eyes have been opened.
"Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act." Proverbs 24:12