Easing Pandemic Restrictions: Alternative Perspective
The last two years have been characterized by restrictions that aim at reducing social mobility, thereby hoping for reduction of the possibility of sudden surge of infection cases. This has been purposeful to limit undue strain to the capacity of every country's health care system. As a health care practitioner, I would, ofcourse, support measures to lessen the burden of all those working in the health care sector by pushing for measures to further reduce mobility in the society. However, in the past few days, I have been trying to understand an alternative perspective. This is the focus of this blogpost. Listen to this.
I think everyone has to delve into the difference between deontological and utilitarian approaches. Deontologicalism focuses on the means, that it should be justifiable and ethically correct regardless of the possible outcome. This is the perspective of those against restrictions. Limiting mobility in the society means increasing unemployment, isolation and increased risk to the most vulnerable, as well as widening gap between the rich and poor. In this school of thought, a low infection rate is not justifiable if the means, which refer to the so-called restrictions are creating problems in itself.
On the other hand, the utilitarianists posit that a good outcome justifies the means. It is the greatest good for all that infection rates remain low to safeguard that health care system remains viable and functioning to cater to different needs of the society, aside from infection cases itself. The greatest good for greatest number is associated with a well-functioning health care system. Well, I guess this is the best argument I could agree with.
However, I was thinking whether "the greatest good" should be exclusively intertwined with health care system. How about thinking of an alternative? What if we would go back to the definition of health, by the World Health Organization, that health is not just the absence of disease, but encompasses physical, emotional, mental and social well-being. The best outcome using utilitarian approach is supposed to be something that balances all these four aspects, and not just merely focusing on how health care systems should work or function. Alternatively, would it always be a good idea to have a holistic perspective on health based on a deotological point-of-view, regardless of what price health care system would pay in the long run?
It is quite interesting to look back unto the definition of health. However, the day-to-day reality at work is pressing and evident. Something has to be done wih it, and the most immediate band-aid solution would be more social restrictions. This has led politicians going back and forth in both easing and restricting social activities. This is the reason I would still force myself to believe that restrictions are still best option we have. However, how long would we continue this vaccilating road towards the elusive end of this pandemic? And ofcourse, we should ask ourself how much sould health care practitioners endure more to consider the burden of this pandemic is way beyond the threshold of a complete health care system collapse.
My pragmatic and realistic self is offering an alternative view. I was thinking no health care system is ever ready to handle this crisis. Even the richest countries struggle with the pandemic. Nothing is sufficient to lessen the ever-increasing health care burden and demand. Whether we have a pandemic today or not, still our health care system is overwhelmed anyway. So what is my point? Will we just allow things to go out of spiral? Partly yes, because it has been chaotic anyway since then, even before the pandemic. I was thinking that the society has perhaps accepted the fact, that nothing is enough. As a result, people die and suffer because of a malfunctioning system.
Everyone has to be blamed. Health care has been for so-long underprioritized. It is as if health care system is expected to adjust itself no matter what happen in the society. Should there be another crisis, we as a society permit to overwhelm our system. We use all kinds of arguments to justify this such as freedom of choice to not get vaccines, be infected and infect others as we wish, maintain the lifestyle we have regardless of whether we know we will get sick in the end, and worse expose ourselves to all kinds of health risks just to satisfy our cravings, desires and curiosity. We are all to blame. Worse, health care practitioners are overworked, underpaid and pressed to their limits. Yet, very few are willing to take this "noble duty" as a profession. We all allowed this to happen.
Perhaps some of you would think, I am talking like a child through this rant. Call me that way, but I think you who think as such, is as childish as me. What did you do to relieve health care system burden in your locality? I myself as a health care practitioner feels guilty of not really doing enough. So, I expect the majority are the same as me. What is my point? What options should be supporting?
I think the best option would be to act according to how your health care system reacts to crisis. If you live in an area, where you think the system generally lacks resources and struggles with mobilizing meager resources, you have practically two options: (1) death/untreated sickness, or (2) support these restrictions in any way possible. In my childhood, I realized at a young age that beggars can never choose. That is life. Motivate others to support restrictions, and follow those all preventive and active health measures. Do this not for the system itself, or for it is ethically correct, do this to survive.
Should you be lucky enough to live in a place where people have more wealth to finance health care, you have also two alternatives: (1) enjoy everything as it lasts, or (2) support whatever rules enforced in your area. These options exclude anyone from complaining. What is the purpose of complaining? You either enjoy all the freedom you want until it lasts, or not. No need of complaining because it is a matter of time when all these health resources will dwindle and become scarce. Nothing is sufficient in the first place. The beauty of this scarcity is that health resources becomes scarce quicker than we expect, the more you enjoy your so-called freedom. Well, if you are egoistic enough to not bother about the communal consumption of these resources, go on. No one is preventing you to do that.
The health resources will become scarce regardless of what we do. When supply deteriorates, so price goes up in the long run. Therefore, should you opt enjoy your freedom, never ever complain if new or higher taxes will be levied in the end, or if when you get old, you have to wait longer to get help from the system you once ignored. Worse, you would be force to get insurance to cover all health costs in the end. Worst-case-scenario is to experience a system collapse, perhaps not in this pandemic, but during the time you need help the most. There is no point of complaining because in the first place, you, the God of Hedonism were part of the reason why things got to that point. My recommendation: support all health measures enforced in your locality. Do this not for the system itself, or for it is ethically correct, do this to survive. We will all need health care help at one point in our life. As I have said, do this to survive and stop complaining.
Well, perhaps you would think I am complaining. Actually, no. I am attempting to tell the truth. Our health care system will never cope with the ever-increasing demands. As a health care worker, if I need to decide who to prioritize or not, that is part of the work. Should we not prioritize you, I am sorry. That is just unfortunate that our resources are scarce. If in the future, I would become a victim myself of this scarcity, I will not complain because there is nothing new to it. Some get help. Some don't, or perhaps just later after when they needed help the most. I would opt to wait for my turn to get help because that is how things work. It is not our birthright to be prioritize over others, it is a privilege to get immediate care when we need it.
Going back to easing restrictions, I would rather say support any measure that promotes your survival. Think not just the short-term benefits, but as well as the long run. No one is curtailing your right for freedom of choice. Go ahead. Do whatever you want. No matter what you do, your current actions will affect how the health care system responds to your needs when you will finally needed it. Do you want to survive? Then listen to this.