Wo Shi Laowai – Wo Pa Shui

This Blog was Invented in Xi'an 5,000 Years Ago

A Question of Priorities

Posted by MyLaowai on Friday, April 20, 2007

The story goes thusly:

The gf has a friend, who has a father, who has a complicated set of medical problems. I say complicated, but really it’s fairly simple: he suffers from haemorrhaging in the brain and diabetes, which together often show the same symptoms as stroke.

The other day, he had an apparent stroke. The family were there, and luckily for him, they actually care about him a bit, so they called an ambulance. It took a long time for the ambulance to arrive – no surprise, seeing as what few ambulances are in service here are used to take the children of minor-rank Party officials to and from school. Still, you can’t blame the family for believing that the ambulance service would be operational in this Harmonious Workers Paradise. They eventually got him aboard, and headed to the nearest hospital. That hospital turned him away, ostensibly because they were ‘full’, but in reality because a man who looks to be dying is not much of a money earner. The next hospital had another excuse. And the next. And the next. And so on. To cut a long story short, they drove around for several hours – this is in Modern, Developed Shanghai, remember – before finding a (military) hospital that would accept him. The ambulance driver then said to the family (who were along for the ride), “what a waste of resource, driving you poor people around”.

No one would wheel his stretcher in, so his family did. They wheeled him from A to B to C and all the way to M, with lots of backtracking along the way. Lots of tests, and lots of payments by the family to ‘smooth things along’. The people who examined the patient (remember, the guy looks to have suffered a stroke, hardly something minor), said that it would take a couple of days to get an answer, but that he needed an IV drip every day for weeks to come. He also had 200cc of blood drawn because it would be “good for his healthy”, but not for any other reason. And then pronounced him not having had a stroke and they kicked him out.

Now, y’all know I believe we all get the society we deserve, and I’m not about to shed crocodile tears over this guy, but here’s my question:

If China wasn’t financing the world’s largest standing army, wasn’t investing hundreds of billions in advanced offence-only weaponry, didn’t have a large (and growing) first-strike nuclear arsenal (including ballistic missile submarines and road-mobile ICBM’s), and didn’t have the world’s largest military (and manned) space program…

D’ya think they might have a functioning health-care system?

(Since posting this, I’ve had a large number of people answer “No, they still wouldn’t have a functioning health-care system”. Fair enough.)

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