Universal Right to Live Free of Disease

The Bendigo Advertiser | Elisha McMurray | 11 March  2017

 Universal right to live free of disease

As a single woman who dates I am acutely aware of the prevalence of STDs.  My recent experience of meeting a man who had genital herpes enhanced my fear of catching a STD.  Motivated by fear of getting sick I went to the doctor and had a free STD test.  While waiting for my results I realised how lucky I was to be in Australia, a country with a good quality public health system which is free for Australians to access.

I realised that people in developing countries would have a different experience engaging with STDs and health.  340 million cases of STDs occur around the world each year, with the greatest number in developing countries where STDs are the most common diseases treated by healthcare professionals other than malaria and diarrheal problems.  Within the poverty stricken continent Africa, 25 out of 100 people will be infected with a STD each year compared to only 9 out of 100 people in Australia.  Even though the majority of STDs are preventable through public health measures like vaccines, antibiotics or condom usage, the sad reality is that developing countries lack the resources to fund this, resulting in larger numbers of people experiencing poor health and early death.   When the doctor informed me that my STD test results detected no infection, I felt incredibly relieved and I realised having access to public health measures shouldn’t be contingent on where you live.  Viewed in this light, the Turnbull government should re-evaluate whether cutting 220 million dollars from the AusAid budget was immoral.  Australia should recheck our priorities, because all people have the right to live free from disease. Our AusAid program is not a ‘cost’, but rather an ‘investment’ into people’s health. When will the Turnbull government re-invest?