This is with reference to Christian Ntizimira’s article, “Why palliative care is a human right”, published in The New Times edition of August 10.
I understand the humane sentiments behind the good doctor’s argument, but if everything becomes a matter of human rights, then the term loses its meaning.
A right is something to which you are entitled to and which must be given or allowed without fail or access to which must be guaranteed, and not be governed by anyone or such considerations as resource limitations. In a country of very low means like Rwanda, where myriad demands of equal importance are made on the same straitened resources, how do you turn palliative care into a human right, no matter how essential it is?
As a caregiver, Dr Ntizimira would be aware that in emergencies with many casualties requiring critical care, triage becomes necessary (you focus primarily on those you believe you might be able to save). In allocating limited resources to infinite demands, a kind of triage (budgeting) is similarly the norm.
But how would you do that if everything became a right that cannot be withheld no matter the circumstances even where your means couldn’t go anywhere close to meeting all those rights you have mandated? Trop de droit tue les droits!
Mwene Kalinda, Kigali