Column: Life is a priceless gift, but costly for some

editorial image

Our columnist Dr Rev John Smith talks about the value of life in his column this week...

My mind has been working overtime, so please forgive me if what you read does not seem connected, although I think that you will discover a common theme.

What price a life?

It has been decided not to licence a new drug for cystic fibrosis (CF), a drug that tackles the causes of this wretched disease rather than its symptoms.

A little bit of revision; CF is a genetic disorder affecting many organs in the body, but especially the lungs, pancreas and intestines.

Growth is stunted, chest infections are so frequent that the lungs are relentlessly damaged, the same can be said for the pancreas and intestines.

Treatment is given with repeated antibiotics, vitamins and pancreatic supplements. One young patient of mine took 90 supplements every day, 30 with every meal!

Chest physio is a must.

With medical advances, life expectancy has crept from childhood to 42 to 52, but that life is far from straightforward.

The new drug – Orkambi (a lumacaftor/ivacaftor combination medicine) – could alter much of that, but at the moment will cost you £105,000 per month and thus, the powers that be have said it is too expensive.

What price a life? This could be you, it could be your child, your brother , your sister, your friend.

A drug that is half the price of many Premiership footballers and less than the pay of many chief executives.

Yes, it will become cheaper, but why wait when someone is suffering?

Why wait when day by day more damage is done?

What value does a life have?

What price life when we are the fifth richest nation in the world?

There is so much suffering, so much prejudice about who is of value and who is not; decisions are made that affect the quality of many lives, poverty is not simply about money, it is about being at the bottom of the pecking order.

Consider this: when visa applications are considered anyone earning less than £30,000 per annum is considered ‘unskilled’.

The top scale for a Band 5 trained nurse is just short of £29,000; many teachers earn less than that, and the starting salary of a police constable is less than £25,000. All skilled and somehow considered to have no value.

What price self respect?

How on earth can we value people by what they are paid and not by what they are and what they do?

What price a life?