Strengthening Health Care in Developing Countries
Nearly 6 million deaths occur each year in developing countries due to the lack of quality health care and nearly 2.9 million deaths occur due to the lack of access to health care. This shows that more people pass away by receiving medical care rather than none and the care is such low-quality that it results in fatalities anyway. Health care is a major issue in underdeveloped countries and organizations are strengthening health care in developing countries to save lives and benefit countries worldwide.

Health Care in Low-Income Countries

Many people living in developing countries are suffering from poverty and may not be able to afford medical treatment. Even if someone is in a severe medical emergency, there often is no “911” number to call and no ambulances that can help in an extreme health crisis. Local health care is what people have to rely on and people sometimes have to travel for days to find a village with any medical care. Clinics and hospitals can have good physicians and equipment, but the lack of infrastructure is the most significant concern.

“Sometimes needles are reused, spreading disease and infection, and vaccines are given even though their effectiveness has been compromised by lack of refrigeration,” said Facts and Details. Hospitals can lose electricity on a regular basis, and run out of essential medical supplies quickly and the actual buildings where clinics and hospitals are located sometimes have no windows or fans and are flat-out unsanitary. In addition, some countries have “fake medicine” where 25% of drugs sold to consumers are counterfeit.

Health Care in Low-Income Countries

In some areas, health care workers have comprised of village midwives, who represent a significant amount of health work. There are doctors and nurses, but they are constantly absent from work. Harvard and the World Bank conducted research showing “an absentee rate of as high 80 percent in single-doctor clinics” in Bangladesh. Meanwhile, “Similar research in Indonesia found [that] 40 percent of health workers [were frequently] absent from clinics.” In many cases, village healers are actually the main source of medical help people seek. The healers sell herbs, use divine stones for diagnoses and treat patients using folk medicine, massages, rituals and prayers. The healers take place of doctors when there are not enough available.

“When you are middle class and you get sick, you first think of a doctor, when you are a poor person, the first thing you think of is a miracle,” a Baptist minister said to Newsweek. Quality health care is necessary for underdeveloped countries because millions die each year due to a lack of access to health care and lack of resources to improve the health care systems in the countries. Here are three organizations strengthening health care in developing countries.

SIGN Fracture Care International

SIGN Fracture Care International is a humanitarian organization that Dr. Lewis Zirkle founded in 1999 with the vision of creating quality fracture care worldwide. This organization works to educate surgeons, then provide donated implants and needed instruments in which the surgeon then completes the necessary treatment for the injury. SIGN has worked to make sure that doctors are educated and prepared to treat their patients and once that reaches completion, it provides the essential tools for the doctors to carry out their procedures. “The SIGN System is designed for use in low-resource hospitals and does not require the use of expensive x-ray machines, or even electricity,” SIGN stated on its website. Since its founding, nearly 382,000 patients have been healed and 409 hospitals are using the SIGN program in 55 countries around the world.

Bridge of Life

Bridge of Life is an international nonprofit organization that DaVita Inc. founded in 2006 with the goal of improving health care around the world through various programs, as well as treating long-term diseases. There are three main programs that make up Bridge of Life: Kidney Care, Kids’ Camp and Chronic Disease Prevention. Its approach is building successful partnerships, training health workers, connecting patients to quality medical treatment, educating on the prevention of long-lasting diseases and engaging health professionals and program volunteers. In 2021, more than 390 health workers received training and more than 1,200 “high-risk patients received medication, health testing and education,” the 2021 impact report said. Since the organization’s founding, more than 118,000 lives have been impacted in 30 countries globally.

WellShare International

WellShare International is an organization that began in 1979 that promotes positive health and well-being and provides medical services to communities. It has a long list of programs that provide education and health services to children, adults and elders. The programs include Caafimaadkaaga – Your Health, East African Smoke, Eliminating Health Disparities Initiative, Family Home Visiting, Minnesota Community Health Worker Peer Network, Somali Health Youth Initiative, SPEAK, Survive and Thrive Groups Help Young Single Mothers and Together for Health. In the organization’s 41 years of existence, it has trained more than 6,000 health workers, creating more educated and equipped health workers. “We envision communities with equitable health care and resources where all individuals live healthy and fulfilling lives,” the organization’s website states.

Around the world, 14% of patients experience harm from the medical care they receive at a hospital. The organizations are working to change that and provide excellent health care to countries globally. Strengthening health care in developing countries will save lives, improve poverty rates and build stronger communities.

Dylan Olive
Photo: Flickr