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The New York Times Buries The Lead

June 16, 2010
12:30 pm

Here’s why you read news stories all the way to the end.

In yesterday’s New York Times, there was an interesting article about healthcare in Rwanda.  The upshot of the piece was that 92 percent of Rwandans have health coverage, at a cost of just $2 per person per year.  Then, in the early paragraphs of the story, came the obligatory potshot at the U.S. healthcare system, with a Rwandan editorial writer quoted as saying he had met an American college student passing through the country and found it “absurd, ridiculous that I have health insurance and she didn’t.”

In other words, it’s the same moral that the Times and other publications have been drilling into readers’ heads for some time now:  Even poor nations have a better healthcare system than Americans do.

Then, you read down to the latter paragraphs of the article and a different picture emerges.

A Boston-based health charity, Partners in Health is operating two hospitals and a network of clinics throughout Rwanda and absorbing the costs.  In fact, over half of the country’s healthcare costs are being covered by other countries, with the United States providing the greatest share.

And, even with this assistance, healthcare in Rwanda still has its tragic side.  There is only one neurosurgeon and three cardiologists for a population of nearly 10 million.  MRI scans and dialysis are virtually nonexistent and waits for general surgery can extend for weeks.

I’m not a trained journalist, but it strikes me that a more interesting lead to the story would concern the generosity of other countries and health providers, trying to raise the standards of healthcare in a third world country.  That, to me, seems more to the point than another rehashing of the tired old cheap shots at healthcare in this country.

One Response to “The New York Times Buries The Lead”

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