From Monkey Smashes Heaven on the state of global health care:
MSH: Real versus Fake Universal Health Care for Women
The debate over “universal healthcare” dominates the political landscape in the US. Obama’s administration and the Democratic Party have committed themselves to healthcare reform. This has caused a firestorm, splitting Amerikans on the issue. Michelle Obama has stepped into the fray over Amerikan healthcare reform. The first lady’s presence in the debate brings attention to the implications of healthcare reform for women. Amerikan feminists argue that “universal healthcare” is a feminist issue because women are disproportionately affected by the costs of the current system. Even though women make up the majority of the population in the US, recent polls indicate that most Amerikans oppose “universal healthcare” as it is currently being advanced by the Democrats. However, the reality is that all Amerikans, even Obama, oppose real universal healthcare. This is because real universal healthcare means health care for all of humanity, not just Amerikans. Real universal healthcare means focusing on those who need healthcare most. It means addressing the health issues of those in the Third World who have little or no healthcare at all.
Real universal healthcare would address the plight of Third World women. Third World women suffer in great numbers from conditions that hardly exist in the First World. First World so-called feminists shrilly advocate expanded healthcare for Amerikan women but are silent about those who truly need health care reform.
Vaginal fistulas are a prime exapmple of the disparity between the healthcare available to First and Third World women. Vaginal fistulas are tears in the vaginal lining resulting from complications during childbirth. This can cause urine and feces to leak from the vagina or chronic incontinence. An estimated two million women in the Third World suffer from vaginal fistulas, with an additional 50,000 to 100,000 occurrences a year. With proper obstetric care this is a highly treatable and preventable medical condition. Most women in Africa have little or no access to such care. Often help, most needed during a prolonged and painful labor, is several days walk and unaffordable. However, vaginal fistulas in the First World are almost unheard of. Women in the First World have easy access to basic levels of care that prevent and treat such conditions.
Another reproductive health issue that plagues women in the Third World, particularly Africa, is HIV/AIDS. Women in sub-Saharan Africa are disproportionately affected by the virus: 12 million women were reported living with the virus in 2007 while approximatley 127,000 women in the U.S. were infected in 2005. Management and treatment of HIV/AIDS is similarly disproportionate. Risk of mother-to-child transfer of HIV/AIDS can be mitigated in the First World by the administration of anti-retroviral drugs which are rarely available to women of the Third World. Testing and prophylactics are widely available in Amerika, slowing the rate of infection, whereas sub-Saharan Africans have limited access to such preventative measures. Women in the First World have access to preventative measures that have kept the number of women affected by the virus relatively low. Post-infection care has greatly improved the prospects of those few women who are infected in the First World. Women of the Third World have severely limited access to preventative measures and post-infection care and are suffering in great numbers.
Imperialist exploitation allows for women in the First World to have first-rate access to reproductive medicine while the women in the Third World are denied basic levels of care. Sub-Saharan Africa, and the rest of the Third World, has been ravaged by imperialism and the people are left hungry and poor. Real feminists and advocates of universal healthcare place a priority on the healthcare of the peoples of the Third World. The superior health care available to First World women comes at the high cost of compromised health of women in the Third World.