Opinion: Here’s How To Make Healthcare More Accessible Now
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Expanding access to healthcare is one of the most critical priorities of our time. According to the World Health Organization, 400 million people around the world do not have essential health services – that is more than the entire population of the United States. The situation is even more challenging in rural areas, where 7 in 10 of the world’s poor live today. This is especially true in places like sub-Saharan Africa, which has 11% of the world’s population yet 24% of the world’s burden of disease, and only 5% of the world’s health workers.
Ask anyone who has been on the ground in rural Africa, and they will tell you the devastating reality of these statistics. Over the years, I have visited Africa many times where I have seen this impact in person. Last year I traveled to Zambia, where I saw the effects that a lack of adequate healthcare and healthcare infrastructure have on people, particularly children. When I was there I had the chance to meet a young girl suffering from rheumatic heart disease (RHD). RHD is a complication of untreated streptococcal sore throat, and an illness that many parents of young children have encountered at some point.
Although completely preventable and treatable, RHD claims the lives of thousands of children each year in the developing world, where poverty is widespread and access to healthcare is limited. Sadly, despite efforts to help this child with emergency travel to India for surgery, RHD ultimately took her life. Unthinkable tragedies like this occur too often in low-income countries.
- Health Care