Are we Civilized?

I have always thought that one very important test of a truly civilized culture is how a society treats those who are less fortunate. An editorial in the Lancet (thanks to Nick Embleton for alerting me to it) takes up the same theme and uses the example of the preterm baby.

Kadaga R, da Silva JB, Featherstone L: Caring for preterm babies is a test of how we respond to our most vulnerable citizens. The Lancet 2013, 382(9905):1613-1614. The authors note that prematurity remains one of the commonest causes of childhood mortality, and despite certain advances, there is still an awful lot that could be done easily and cheaply to improve outcomes: reducing prematurity with contraception and family planning services, antenatal steroids in mothers about to deliver a premature baby, simple resuscitation training (Helping Babies Breathe) availability of antibiotics and training for health workers to recognize infections, kangaroo care and supporting the supply of breast milk.

This year, let us dare to dream of further improvements for those born too soon, and then work to make them happen. Our health systems can be judged by how we care for newborn babies, especially preterm babies who can die, or be saved, by an effective health system. Is saving newborn lives not an important measurement and fitting indicator of universal health coverage

And an indicator of how civilized we really are?

About Keith Barrington

I am a neonatologist and clinical researcher at Sainte Justine University Health Center in Montréal
This entry was posted in Neonatal Research and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Are we Civilized?

  1. John Lantos says:

    It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.
    Hubert H. Humphrey

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