This week International Volunteer Cheryl Rice reflects on Rights and Responsibilities.
This week’s theme is “Rights and Responsibilities,” and I want to take a moment to reflect upon the issue of health care as a basic human right. Those of you living in the North of Ireland benefit from the NHS. While the health system in place is not perfect, it does provide access to health care to all its citizens and visitors. I know this from personal experience.
One of the scary experiences I had in Ireland was was battling some flu-like sickness and one morning I woke up with a rash covering my body. I didn’t know what to do. My private health insurance was not processed and I was scared. A friend insisted that I go to the A&E (ER), but I was very resistant. As I American, I didn’t think they would see me because I didn’t have health insurance. But, that’s not how it works in Northern Ireland. Everyone who goes to the A&E gets seen. Everyone gets the medicine they need. And, it is free.
As Pacem in Terris reads, “We must speak of man's rights. Man has the right to live. He has the right to bodily integrity and to the means necessary for the proper development of life, particularly food, clothing, shelter, medical care, rest, and, finally, the necessary social services. In consequence, he has the right to be looked after in the event of ill health...” (#11)
getting sick. I As a human being, I had the right to health care and I got it, no strings attached. Because of this experience, issues surrounding health care have become very important to me. I am lucky enough to have a job that provides health insurance to its employees, but not all people have that luxury. There are many Americans and global citizens, who, because they are alive and a human being, deserve health care, but do not receive it.
Before coming to Northern Ireland and experiencing the benefits of a more universal health care, I didn’t take much interest in this issue. But I have learned, just because I have the basic right to healthcare, does not mean I can forget about those who do no. I have to responsibility to pray and advocate for those who are lacking this basic human right. I have a responsibility to help insure that all people have their basic rights respected, not because I am in a place of privilege, but because I am a human being. And, at the end of the day, we are all human beings and need to be responsible for our human family.