Every now and again I receive a plea for help via MedWorm, for some poor soul suffering from a number of terrible ailments, living in desperate conditions and with no access to health care. When I first built MedWorm I took the hard line decision to never respond to such enquiries, for the following reasons:
1. I can never be certain which are genuine or not.
2. I really don't have any money to help these people (every penny I take keeps MedWorm running).
3. I might run into legal problems if I start trying to help people, especially if I give anyone advice.
4. It might break my heart and then I'd be no use to anyone - much better I devote my attention to MedWorm that is likely to be of much greater benefit to all.
Most such pleas I therefore hardly read and send straight to the bin. However, every
now and again one does catch my attention - usually a disjointed rambling that goes into some little detail that leads me to believe that the case is genuine.
I sometimes read these cases to my husband, who like me finds such stories tragic, and somewhere in my heart I offer up a prayer for these people in the hope that it may help them in some small way. My husband always asks me where the person is from, which I can usually tell from the IP address.
And here's the where real shock lies. The accounts I read would be of no surprise coming from a third world country, especially since MedWorm has a truly international audience. However, almost without exception, they come from people living in some of the richest states in America. People without health insurance who can't even afford a visit to a GP, lying in squalor, suffering truly awful afflictions, not knowing where to turn for help.
I see lots of great initiatives in the USA, charities to help develop health care in the third world, doctors that take some time out to work in poor countries abroad - but what about the poor sitting on your own doorstep?