In the July 7 Post-Gazette, a graph was printed comparing daily costs for health care in a number of countries ("Enough Said," Forum). Not unexpectedly, the United States is shown to be the most costly, while all others are substantially less, including South Africa.
Is their care just as good?
A personal note may be illustrative. In the early '90s, while in South Africa, on leave from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, I underwent tests for abnormal liver function values. Included in this workup was a CT scan with enhancement, where contrast dye was dripped into a vein, accepted practice at that institution -- a premier South African medical facility. However, in Pittsburgh dye is injected as a bolus under pressure, allowing for better contrast enhancement. Needless to say, a cancerous lesion was missed in South Africa, only to be later diagnosed and successfully treated at UPMC.
That was 18 years ago! I owe a considerable debt of gratitude to those skilled physicians and surgeons at UPMC, especially Dr. Wolfgang Schraut and the UPMC Cancer Center group, with their dedicated teams.
As a result of this cure, I was able to participate in some of UPMC's very exciting and significant positive international endeavors, helping to shape health care in other countries. My wife and I were part of the on-site teams in both Palermo, Italy, living there for two years, and Dublin, Ireland, where we lived for a year.
UPMC continues to play a major positive role in health care, making a difference to patients, not only to those in Pittsburgh and its region, but also Italy, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
The role of UPMC's outreach efforts in those countries is another great story, which needs to be told!
DR. JAN D. SMITH
The writer is clinical professor and clinician emeritus, UPMC and University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.