Approximately 1.3 million people were diagnosed with cancer in the United States in 2005 with a total treatment expenditure of about 48 billion dollars[i]. This puts the average treatment cost in the U.S. at $37000 in 2005. With a projected worldwide incidence of 23 million in 2030[ii], the global cost assuming a 2005 U.S. price tag and no inflation will be 851 billion dollars. The current world GNP is 30 trillion dollars[iii]. About 3 cents of every dollar earned worldwide will go for cancer treatment if everyone is treated. It technically could work. But let’s be realistic here. With 4 cents of every dollar going for food alone[iv], and 15 million children dying yearly of starvation[v], there is a distribution and priority problem to be considered. With a world population of 6.7 billion[vi] today, (179 dollars/person need 2.7 billion dollars to feed children/ 1.2 trillion currently spent on food/) we would have to increase the food budget by about 2.7 billion dollars or 0.009 % just to address the issue of starvation in children. That’s about 1 penny for about every $100 earned worldwide, or about a 1 cent donation every day by every person in your average U.S. household[vii] assuming everyone worldwide is taxed equally. If the U.S. were to assume this burden alone with its GNP of 14.2 trillion and population of 307 million, it would be about 2-3 cents/day for every person.
These are children looking for the most basic need, and still the penny doesn’t trickle down. Three cents of every dollar does not seem like a lot at first, but when you consider the lives of these children, you start to realize that 1 cent/day = 15 million child deaths in our value system. The economics are mind boggling. There are many simplifications that were used in the calculations and perhaps a most basic assumption that feeding these children who currently die of starvation would cost as much as feeding the average child. "
As I write these words, the holy season of Ramadan begins. I have bought an alarm clock to set it for the 5 daily prayers, reciting those suras of the Quran that I feel comfortable with at these times. The alarm is set to go off before the prayers begin so that I can wake up and feed myself. Daylight is fasting. No food or drink. As it turns out, the Great Spirit sent a coyote this morning around 3 am, so the alarm clock really wasn’t necessary. At least the first day – there are 30 more to go. I have a few extra minutes, so I pick up the text that I have been writing and begin to reread and edit it. The alarm to prepare for the 5:37 prayer sounds as I reread the third sentence of the above paragraph changing the position of the number 2005 in the sentence:
“With a projected worldwide incidence of 23 million in 2030[i], the global cost assuming a 2005 U.S. price tag and no inflation will be 851 billion dollars.”
The alarm for the 6:47 prayer sounds as I reread the 9th sentence.
“These are children looking for the most basic need, and still the penny doesn’t trickle down.”
It’s a lot to pray about, as I reflect on the penny on the floor near the food on my way out for the sunrise prayer (that I do as I walk 2 of my dogs).
Still, there is a lot that can be done. The buck isn’t the only way out. We should never forget that there is a lot that can be accomplished without money. Using your legs to visit someone, your voice to talk to someone, your arms to hold someone, none of this requires money. A lot of prevention is in our hands with education. When I think of the little child who needed a liver transplant who was held hostage by a system until she died the day after it was finally approved, I have to ask: What part of this problem really needed an insurance company’s signature to perform the transplant? Were there not enough scalpels? Were there not enough surgeons – one that would have had to work a sleepless 2nd shift perhaps? Was the anesthesia not available for the surgery? Were the rejection drugs not there? Would a scientist have had to spend a few more hours in the lab running tests? It was a 17 year old child – and what happened was tragic (ref 6). We have to learn how to think outside the box."