Private Sector Key to Eliminating Malaria in Cambodia
Having already made substantial progress in the effort to eradicate malaria, Cambodia is one of the 17 countries in Southeast Asia looking to continue finding solutions to this problem and putting an end to this disease by 2025. The strategy of eliminating malaria in Cambodia hinges on a joint effort between the public sector and the private sector. With proposed solutions made by this collaboration, Cambodia is on the road to eliminating the disease by its projected period.

Malaria in Cambodia Numbers

In Cambodia, 1 million people become infected with malaria every year. Despite this high number of infections, there has been substantial progress made in working to find solutions to eradicating malaria. For example, in 2015, Youyou Tu received The Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for her discovery of artemisinin, a type of anti-malarial medicine that is being used today.

While efforts have been made in eradicating malaria in Cambodia, there is still a lot that needs to be done in order to achieve this goal. Of the 1 million people who become affected by malaria, around 1.5 percent and 10 percent of people that are located in distant provinces die. The parasite responsible for these deaths is the Plasmodium falciparum. To prevent the occurrence and spread of this disease, early intervention with artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) is the key. Yet, distribution of antimalarial medicines remains a challenge. While there are immediate and positive effects of ACT therapy, many people are not able to receive this medicine.

PSI/Cambodia

One organization that working on ending malaria in Cambodia is Population Services International/Cambodia (PSI/Cambodia). The purpose of this initiative is to work on health issues caused by HIV/AIDS, malaria and reproductive health of women who are going to give birth. In 2003, a program of PSI/Cambodia started to offer malaria treatment with the help of private clinics, pharmacies and shops in many parts of rural Cambodia. Of total Cambodia’s population, the poor are particularly at risk of getting the disease. As shown by this initiative, the private sector remains crucial for ending malaria in Cambodia.

Solutions to Ending Malaria in Cambodia

To meet the need for antimalarial medicines, the Global Fund, an international partnership organization, has proposed some essential solutions by the public sector working with the private sector for eradicating malaria in Cambodia. The first is to make sure there is access to effective antimalarial medicines that the private sector provides. This proposal also means the dispose of fake antimalarial drugs that are currently in the market. In addition, this means also the disposal of antimalarial drugs that do not meet the national guidelines.

Secondly, the report of the Global Fund urges organizations in the private sector to make sure they provide effective diagnostic testing. Lastly, the Global Fund recommends that there is widespread access to affordable antimalarial medicines for eradicating malaria in Cambodia, in order to allow for those living on less than $1.25 a day to purchase afford this life-saving treatment.

One way to achieve these proposals is subsidizing antimalarial medicines in order to allow consumers to be able to buy them. Another way to increase distribution of antimalarial medicine is through social marketing. In addition to making sure there is an effective treatment at a cost that people can afford, these same two strategies can be used for diagnostic testing.

With much progress having been made to end malaria in Cambodia, there is room for more improvement in order to reach the goal of eradicating the disease by 2025. With more joint effort between the public sector and private sector through subsidizing prices of antimalarial medicine, Cambodia can move one step closer to eradicating malaria.

– Daniel McAndrew-Greiner
Photo: Flickr

Primary Care in Developing Countries
The lives of 6 million children could be saved globally each year through more effective primary care. However, half of the world’s population cannot access essential health services. In fact, 800 million people spend at least 10 percent of their income on health expenses for themselves or a family member which can push them further into poverty.

Blockchain Technology and Primary Care Services

Despite these overwhelming statistics, blockchain technology is beginning to transform the health care sector in Europe and Africa through virtual health assistance. The European Commission has launched CareAi in June 2018, which is a digital computer system that uses a patient’s blood sample to quickly diagnose diseases without the presence of a physical doctor.

Harvard University Chemistry Professor George Whiteside created the machine to feature a small finger prick device. The patient experiences a quick poke from a sterilized needle, then places their fingerprint onto a chip that is inserted into the machine. The intelligent CareAi system has the ability to diagnose diseases like typhoid fever, malaria and tuberculosis in seconds and quickly prints results, which directs ill patients to nearby pharmacies for medicine. The machine’s intelligence is expected to evolve over time and could even surpass human proficiency in 2-3 years.

CareAi ensures that all patient information and results are kept anonymous so it will be able to help undocumented migrants and populations secluded from the health care system who fear deportation. However, if the government wishes to access data for policy purposes, it will pay participating healthcare NGOs and machine maintenance costs. CareAi machines will be placed in public places such as mosques, churches and markets so people who lack primary care in developing countries will be able to benefit.

CareAi Targets the Most Vulnerable Groups

Creators of this new invention are targeting refugee camps in Europe and are giving specific attention to India which only has one doctor for every 921 people as well as Africa. According to the World Health Organization, across the globe, 50 percent of the children under age five who die of pneumonia, diarrhea, measles, HIV, tuberculous and malaria each year, are from Africa. CareAi will allow easy access and accurate diagnoses to these people who are in quick and desperate need of health results.

Looking Forward

AI projects are taking place all over the world and opening up exciting possibilities in the not so distant future. In a piece titled, 10 Promising AI Applications in Health Care, Harvard Business Review highlights an AI-powered nurse avatar called “Molly” which is being used to “interact with patients, ask them questions about their health, assess their symptoms, and direct them to the most effective care setting”.

In addition, the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is using AI processes to predict which patients will be no-shows and to reduce readmission rates. Artificial intelligence will continue to change the way we practice medicine and will open up new diagnostic possibilities for primary care in developing countries.

– Grace Klein
Photo: Pixabay

Health Care Reform in Turkey
In a very revolutionary move, Turkey has made cancer treatment essentially accessible for all. Labour and Social Security Minister Jülide Sarıeroğlu announced in a written statement that the country has abolished all extra fees that were charged in treatment, surgery and medication of cancer.

This new shift in policy is part of a longstanding effort to improve health care in Turkey and make health care coverage available for all, particularly the nation’s poor.

Universal Health Care in Turkey

The policy was approved earlier this year and shows further commitment to universal health care in Turkey. Sarıeroğlu added that Turkey will continue to make improvements to its health care system regardless of costs.

The impact this will have on the population is significant as 20 percent of deaths in Turkey are caused by cancer and 450 individuals are diagnosed with cancer on a daily basis, totaling to approximately 164,000 cases every year. As part of the shift, the government also increased cancer treatment payments in private hospitals by 200 percent for those with social benefits.

The Labour and Social Security minister has additionally committed to improving the conditions of public health care providers and state universities. Lastly, to avoid overcrowding, hospitals owned by the Health Ministry and the Sosyal Güvenlik Kurumu (Social Security Institution) were merged.

The History of Health Care in Turkey

In 2002, Turkey’s health care system was riddled with inefficiencies. The country’s allocation towards cancer treatment was a paltry 3 percent in overall spending. The infant mortality rate was at 26.1 per 1,000 live births, and two-thirds of the population had no access to health insurance.

With the support of the World Bank Group, the Health Transformation Programme was initiated. The programme’s main goal was to overhaul the previous health care infrastructure and equalize access to health facilities in rural and urban areas alike. Along with addressing systemic regional imbalances, the World Bank has helped Turkey confront non-communicable diseases, including but not limited to cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Reform of the Health Care in Turkey

Since the implementation of better and more comprehensive health care in Turkey, the citizens of the country have seen an increase in insurance coverage from 2.4 million people in 2003 to 10.2 million people in 2011. Coverage specifically for Turkey’s poorest decile jumped from 24 percent in 2003 to 85 percent in 2011. The enhanced financial protection provided by insurance has reduced the relative number of out-of-pocket payments, especially for lowest-income households, subsequently leading to a decline in exorbitant health expenditures.

Furthermore, life expectancy at birth is now close to the average level proposed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). An average Turkish newborn in 2014 has the chance to live 6 years longer than a Turkish baby born in 2002. This is an increase from 71.9 to 77.7 years. Only 39 percent of the population was content with health services in 2003, whereas 2011 saw satisfaction bloom to 75.9 percent.

This upward trajectory of health care in Turkey has validated the optimism of citizens looking forward to universal health care. The country’s existing hospitals are experiencing a reformation period and 500 new hospitals have opened in recent years. In her written statement, Jülide Sarıeroğlu assured that there are more improvements to come in the future period.

Yumi Wilson
Photo: Flickr

Anganwadi Workers in India
Anganwadi is a child and health care system in India, initiated by the government to promote nutrition, education and health care to its citizens, particularly in rural areas. Anganwadi workers in India are the first point of contact between organized health care and the poor people in rural India. The responsibilities of these workers include caring for the health and well being of nursing women, children and socioeconomically deprived groups.

The Anganwadi Workers

There are over one million Anganwadi centers in India with 2 million workers, benefiting over 70 million people. Each worker is responsible for the well-being of around 1,000 people in villages across India. The workers are from the community they operate in and thus have an intimate understanding of the issues surrounding patients. They are able to gain the trust of the patients and are thus able to provide for their needs.

This workforce includes mostly women and is regarded as an acceptable and effective means of employment for women in rural areas. Nursing women and children are comfortable being treated by these workers and find it easier to seek help. The workers participate in rudimentary training and skills to care for the people in their village.

The workers are often the only source of help for villagers and thus allow more people to gain access to health care. Rural India suffers from issues such as overpopulation, lack of sanitation and illiteracy, and these workers are able to ease the overburdened health care system of the country.

Benefits for the Children

Anganwadi centers also serve as free-of-cost preschool centers for children in the area. These centers also organize immunization programs for children and provide information on how to attain adequate nutrition. The mission of the organization is to remove malnutrition in India by 2022. The successes of polio and leprosy eradication programs in the country owe a great deal to the efforts of the Anganwadi workers.

The Ministry of Women and Child Development provides different types of training for workers, including classroom training. Some workers receive up to 3 months of training. Workers are also provided with refresher training from time to time. This ensures that workers have some understanding of health care and social development of children and are able to provide assistance to families.

Educational and Environmental Role

There has been a recent focus on sanitation measures that include providing drinking water, promoting personal hygiene practices and establishing practices of environmental sanitation. This provides people with tools to care for themselves and their environment. Workers provide advice on preventing open defecation, unhygienic food preparation and unsanitary living.

Anganwadi centers also organize workshops to empower adolescent girls through education, skill development and personal hygiene. By promoting literacy and nutrition, the centers are providing resources to young girls to develop themselves personally and professionally. This is also a means to reduce child marriages by providing skills to be economically and socially empowered.

Workers also utilize technology such as smartphones to create a database of residents of the village and schedule home visits for those who are immobile. Technology is also used to track activities, attendance and growth. This is also a good way to track progress and keep workers accountable.

Despite their helpful service, Anganwadi workers in India are severely underpaid. The government of India has provided greater incentives and salary to these workers so they are able to provide for themselves adequately.

Anganwadi workers in India provide the systematically oppressed with access to health care, education and sanitation facilities. This allows for an improvement in the quality of life of Indians and provides many women with employment opportunities. Continuous work of this organization will benefit the country in its goal of eradicating poverty.

– Isha Kakar
Photo: Flickr