Disability and the Mosquito

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By Wieland Kaphingst, Eng. (BMT), CPO (CE), CP

Proverb of unknown origin:
"If you think you are too small to make a difference, you haven't been in bed with a mosquito." 

And what does disability have to do with mosquitoes?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), about 10 percent of any population has some kind of physical disability.

Thus, it is no problem to calculate how many people are afflicted in your neighborhood, in your town, state, countryor the entire world.

However, governments worldwide show an increasing trend to neglect the needs of this quite impressive and important percentage of their populationthe people they supposedly take care of, the people who vote in elections.

Just recently I read that one of the US states is the first to consider cutting orthotic and prosthetic services in its Medicaid program.

If you deal with health insurers on a daily basisas most of us doyou have learned that cutting services to this specific population down to the bare bones has been one of their most prevalent cost-cutting practices over the last few decades.

Employers try to keep orthotic and prosthetic coverage out of their group insurance plans, or don't even consider it, regarding it as too expensive. In the end there may be nobody there to cover these and related expenses.

Who is taking effective action about this?

Everyone thinks he or she is too small to make a difference. Those who do try, find out that they are not taken seriously. Either they are suspected of doing this for their own purpose and profits as providers or manufacturers and their organizations, or they do it for a "humanitarian purpose" which cynics doubt, since this seems to be a most ridiculous thing to do. To them, only dreamers believe in the relevance of humanitarian values in a world driven by economic values.

Let's face it: Credibility is not on our side.

Let's be honest too: sure we need to make a profitjust as anybody else does. But was that your reason for getting into this field in the first place? Aren't there any better venues, if profit-making is goal number one? What about going into the insurance business instead?

Let's Be Mosquitoes

But what about those inflicted by disability? What about the disabled population themselves?

As with the mosquito, power is in the masses only. It is easy to kill one or even ten of them. But have you ever been in one of the wetland nature parks during mosquito season?

How would a government react if thousands of amputees would march toward its capital, prostheses off, walking on crutches, letting the rest of the world see what a residual limb actually looks like and acts like when not "covered" by a prosthesis? The media would have a frenzy in covering that event!

How would that government feel if those limbless persons make sure the rest of the world learns that their government has just cut the cost of supplying them with adequate prosthetic care?

Wouldn't it feel like 10,000 mosquito bites-or worse?

Let's be mosquitoes! Let's also help those who already are mosquitoes know that they have the power of the masses. Let's develop strategies to multiply their existing power.

Let them have proper education on what the technological/clinical choices of good prosthetic/orthotic care can do for them today. Keeping them uneducated is a tactic of those who deny their responsibilitiesonly we can change that.

Let them know about their rights under existing law and let them know how they can make sure that these rights are provided to them in their full extent. And let them know what they can do to change flaws in the law according to their needs.

Aren't we lucky we live in a democracy and have the freedom and democratic obligation to do just that?

This is what WE can do: Form a group to support the mosquitoes. Make sure they know about their power. Be one of them. Let's join the mosquitoes!