Beginning November, women in Israel may have to give birth without the trusted epidural injection to relieve their pain. The Association of Anesthesiologists of Israel has warned of a “serious shortage of epidural kits to relieve the pain of women giving birth in the country, from November,” explaining that the shortage “is part of a global shortage due to supply problems at the American company Portex, which manufactures a key component of the vast majority of kits.”
Epidural anesthesia is not a luxury we can afford to do without. It has become a key component not only in child labor, but in many surgical procedures.
Just like the spike in the price of wheat because of the war in Ukraine, or the soaring energy prices due to Russia’s shutdown of gas pipelines to Europe, the shortage of epidural is a (literally) painful reminder of our interdependence. The more egocentric we become—as individuals and as nations—the more agonizingly reality will remind us that selfishness works against us.
As with all global shortages, there is no real lack of epidural. Yet, when each country thinks only of itself and stacks up on supplies, shortages of materials are created and the entire supply chain is disrupted. As a result, everyone suffers, including the countries that stack up.
Like stubborn children who refuse to learn, reality is teaching us the hard way the lessons we must learn. The labor pains that women might be suffering soon are not for lack of epidural anesthesia, but for lack of mutual concern, for lack of empathy. The more the lesson hurts us, the quicker we will learn. The more rebellious we remain, the more painful the lessons of reality will be.
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