Friday, February 27, 2009

Pause for Thought

As I was taking my medication today, I decided to actually account for the quantity of medication that was given to me and consequently tally the relevant accounts. The final tally was 572 tablets spanning over eight different kinds of medication which amounts to SGD$22.16. That is by any standards, extremely affordable.

This compels one to ponder - if medicine is actually that affordable, why are people in the Third World countries dying because of the lack of it? Even in a economic downturn, for any developed country to fork out a few hundred thousand dollars to save a nation would not be much of a pinch for the country's coffers. If that is the case, then why is it so hard for these countries to obtain medication or for developed countries to lend a hand?

One of the major and absolutely avoidable obstacles that these developing countries face would be that of intellectual property and patent rights. The pharmaceutical companies in the developed world are reluctant to relinquish profit as they insist that the developing countries are not allowed to manufacture a cheaper version of the medication but must import it with payment for the patent rights. Such a worry, while not unfounded as it may undermine years of research and a great economic loss, is insignificant as compared to the real need of those unfortunate people. We should truly stop attaching an economic benefit or value to everything for it is a dehumanising effect. What if these people were your own loved ones and all they need is a couple of tablets which will determine whether they live or die... will you do the accounts of how much more money you would lose if a cheaper version of the drug is manufactured? Of course not, you will probably hand them those two tablets for free! So why are we being so calculative?

Yet, another major obstacle that plagues these people would be that of a corrupt government running the country as financial aid to these countries are being systematically siphoned off to their personal coffers. With regards to this problem, it would take a lot of international effort and resolution to clamp down on these corrupt officials while other legal implications such as a country's personal integrity would be a speed bump on the road to reformation. For such an unfortunate situation, the only thing we can do is to let go and let God.

Besides all that, I would implore my gentle readers to consider this, $22.16 for 572 tablets in which a couple of tablets for each person would go a long way. If our governments were to fork out $30, that meagre sum would actually save 286 people! How can we as humans, sit by and let death wield its sword? What is wrong with us?

This I Believe

What do you believe in? If there is one principle, idea, thought or philosophy that you'll stick by no matter what happens, what would that be? I believe that each and everyone of us has a strong belief in something. Often, we relegate these beliefs to writing and relating to someone else but no progression is made except in a progression of words; orally or literary. However, ever so often it takes someone absolutely unexpected to actually act on their beliefs and actually change the world. Such individuals often makes us wake up and realise how passive we are and that it only takes a little more effort to actually change the world.

I found my inspiration in a seven-year-old boy named Tarak Mclain. His innocence and a deep set of beliefs led him to act on it and change his neighbourhood and obscure parts of the world. He has organised two fund-raisers to build schools in Thailand and often collects food for the homeless in his neighbourhood. Such seemingly trivial acts of love has made his neighbourhood, his family and friends spiritually uplifted. He is definitely the David in our midst as he sets out to tackle the Goliath of problems one dime at a time.

So what are you doing about your beliefs? It only takes very little to change the world so let us take our beliefs into the world. Let us write and talk about our beliefs openly. While our beliefs on sensitive issues may face the obstacles of censorship, I believe that if our rhetoric is delievered in a rational fashion with extra caution in explaining certain sensitive aspects.Yet, being tactful to all parties is very important. So let us act on our beliefs and make the world a better place step by step.

For those who are interested in Tarak Mclain's story, you may visit

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Fresh Start

I decided to start a new blog for I felt my previous blog was getting stagnant and stale. Besides, the term, savoir-faire is not a befitting description to my vision of the blog. Savoir-faire is to be defined as having the knowledge of what to do in any situation. Hence, I felt that 'Prelude' is a more befitting title for my blog for in reading my posts, you will get a prelude to me as a person and in consequence, my gentle readers will be able to form an opinion or develop a clearer understanding of myself.

Anyway, I have decided to include the latest post from my previous blog entitled 'Hospital Stay'. So here goes:

The one week stay at Changi General Hospital was an adventure in which I got to meet several colourful personalities that did gave me insights about life and love. If this post were to be developed into a book, its title will be a shameless rip-off from a best selling novel - 'The People You Meet in a Ward'.

During the first four days of my hospital stay, I was in a C class ward 47 which consists of eight beds. While it was slightly suffocating due to the mass of patients, nurses (including the nursing students) and doctors around, it is brimming with life so much so that it is as if there were neither doctors nor patients, just a celebration of life. Of course, I do exaggerate on that account but what gave it so much life was the enthusiasm and the willingness of the nurses and the nursing students.

The ITE nursing students were absolutely fabulous. They were attentive, sensitive and extremely innovative in overcoming the problems I have with moving due to a bad knee. Never was there a single occasion did they complain but every single moment was filled with genuine care and concern. They bring with them an overwhelming sense of cheerfulness as I find myself giggling away at some of their quirky antics as it often makes me forget about the pain in my knee. It is an utter shame that our society as a whole has several preconceived notions with regards to the ITE students. In my opinion, they are as able, intelligent and have the same potential as the poly or even the JC students. What becomes of them truly depends on the individual and going to a supposedly 'not-so-good' (forgive me for the lack of a better expression) institution does not spell the end of the journey. So I would like to say an exceptionally big thank you to the ITE nursing students and my sincere wishes in your studies. Keep the smile and cheer and you guys will make exceptional nurses - a gift to our healthcare system.

Another set of interesting characters one gets to meet in a hospital would be, of course, the fellow patients. In this instance, the myriad of ailments and illnesses that plague these poor souls is a sobering lesson about life and the true meaning of life. With regards to this group of people, you will get to meet the optimists and the pessimists and should one observe them closely, you will see that their attitudes does play a crucial role in determining the progress of their condition. In observing these fellows, I realise how wonderful it is to spend the day slowly and savouring every moment. In this tumultous economic downturn, it is even more important not to tie any indulgence and activity to its economic value or productivity. We should learn to savour life's brief moments for the joy that it brings, even if it seems unproductive. It is never unproductive if you are spiritually uplifted by the activity.

So there you have it, the people you meet in the ward.