Healthcare for the Pangolin
On World Pangolin Day, a look at one aspect that seems unconnected but contributes to the trade in the world’s most trafficked mammal.
Written by Aristo Mendis
It is World Pangolin Day. And, as much as we would like to look at the pangolin trafficking dilemma as either glass ‘half-empty’ or ‘half-filled’ in terms of existing efforts to ensure their survival, we do have to address one of the main triggers behind why these scaly mammals (and so many more) are continuously collected, killed, smuggled, processed, traded, and so on.
Let’s talk about healthcare — accessible and affordable healthcare. For everyone, to adapt mainstream healthcare, is in itself a colossal task. With educated people from the west still debating whether vaccinations even work, I believe we can comfortably state that an individual’s behavior and preferences for certain lifestyles are deep-rooted in their individual upbringing, the surroundings that they inhabit, and the morals and values that they have been instilled with. And we have to respect that.
This brings me to one of my main concerns towards the demand for wildlife-based products, as so much of it is ingrained based on who or what we ‘believe in’. And it is staggering to even acknowledge that this belief alone is the cause for threat to multiple species, natural landscapes and even in certain cases, human communities. For, wildlife trafficking does not affect ‘wild’ life alone.
Unaffordable and inaccessible healthcare has been a major barrier to changing people’s perception on how far medicine has grown. Even today, there is a sizeable proportion of people who still believe that traditional medicine is better than conventional mainstream medicine. And sometimes these claims are not completely baseless, as mainstream medicine continues to work as a ‘for profit’ model instead of having a ‘for all’ approach. It is for governing institutions to take on the task of providing affordable, accessible healthcare to all. Not only does this fulfill their constitutional obligation, but also has a direct impact on demand for medicine derived from wild animals.
As I write this opinion piece, I have come to realize that I do not have all the right answers to convince everyone on why wildlife products do not work as an alternative to mainstream medicine, since is it such a vast and diverse topic. But, what I can leave you with, is an afterthought, which is based on questioning your own beliefs and finding it out for yourself if the claims attached to wildlife-based medicines hold any ground in itself. After all, wildlife trafficking only exists because there is a demand, which leads to a market, which leads to suppliers, and ultimately which leads to a wildlife species in a place where it does not belong.
Finally, what we can most definitely do is to embrace modern medicine, and rally towards affordable healthcare for all (including members of human communities that live in and around wilder landscapes). It is time to leave behind our beliefs attached to ‘scales’ of a pangolin which are claimed to be the cure for various diseases, despite being scientifically disproved multiple times in the past. Here’s to wishing you a ‘Happy Pangolin Day’. Your choices matter.
This entry was posted on Saturday, February 16th, 2019 at 4:02 PM
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