By Joe Belanger, London Free Press
Last Updated: January 14, 2011 9:16am
The plight of a London woman suffering from a rare, leprosy-like skin infection but unable to get the province to fund the drug needed to treat it has outraged people across the country and rightly so.
What’s interesting about the case of Leslie Anne Jenkins is the outrage that has focused attention on the Ontario Disability Support Program, which denied her application to fund the drug she can’t afford while on disability pension.
The decision seems heartless if not inane. For $300 a month, there is a drug, itraconazole, that can treat this horrible, disfiguring infection, hyperkeratotic head and neck malassezia dermatosis, which is an extremely rare infectious disease caused by skin yeast.
Jenkins describes her thickened skin as similar to the wrinkles on an elephant. Around her chin, it falls off and grows back again. The condition makes
it difficult to eat and she can’t consume hot drinks. Her food has to be cut into tiny pieces
Jenkins appealed to her MPP, Health Minister Deb Matthews for help, but in a face-to-face meeting Matthews could only promise to review the case to ensure proper procedures were followed.
What’s interesting about the outrage, which resulted in people from across the country offering financial help, is that it comes at a time when taxpayers
are under a heavy tax burden and frustrated about the ever-increasing costs of health care and drugs that take a bigger and bigger chunk of their tax dollars each year.
That’s because the average person has a heart connected to a brain. They can see and understand how outrageous it is that a system should leave someone on their own to cope with such an affliction.
They know that if their tax dollars are used to ease Jenkins’ agony it’s money well spent, not wasted, on consultants, team-building retreats at five-star
resorts, needless studies or the perks and bonuses of bureaucrats.
Jenkins’ situation is a perfect example of what’s wrong with bureaucracies, why people distrust bureaucrats and why they lose faith in government.
Yes, there are limits and budgets and rules. But surely somewhere within the labyrinth of our government and offices of the Ontario Disability Support Program there is room for a heart and the brain to go with it.