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The global health crisis

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There are more than 59.5 million refugees today. That’s more than at any time in human history, even at the end of World War II. The movement of people – not just of those exiting Syria, but of all who are on the move worldwide – has huge implications for health systems around the world. The challenges of providing care to so many who’ve been displaced are staggering
The mental health consequences of war, displacement, Ebola, gender-based violence, natural disasters and other traumas will become more and more apparent. Today’s global health workforce isn’t ready for these challenges – there are too few social service workers and others trained to provide complex, specialized mental health care, and far too few are based where the need is greatest. In fact, there just aren’t enough health workers right now to go around. The challenges of providing Health-care to so many who’ve been displaced are staggering.
There are 5 billion people worldwide who do not have access to much-needed safe and affordable surgical and anesthesia services. Further, 18.6 million people die every year due to lack of surgical care, a number that is over three times the combined number of deaths caused by HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
Surgical problems such as trauma, complicated pregnancy, birth defects, and some types of cancer and infections also kill and disable millions of people in Africa each year. The most basic surgical care is missing in many African countries.
In Uganda for example, most patients with surgical problems never even reach a medical facility.Uganda has an epidemic of vehicle crashes with no emergency system or adequate facilities for injured patients. Injuries kill more African children over 5 than HIV, tuberculosis and malaria combined, and 90 percent of injury deaths globally are in low-income countries.
The current crisis in human resources for health in Africa has reached a serious level in many countries. A complex set of reasons has contributed to this problem, some exogenous, such as the severe economic measures introduced by structural adjustment, which often result in cutbacks in the number of health workers while some endogenous reasons, including misdirected human resource and training policies, weak institutions, and inappropriate structures
To achieve these goals, health experts should encourage the development of complex and long-term relationships with academic training institutions and partner organizations abroad. To allow surgeons in high-income countries to participate in global surgery, there needs to be a foundation already in place for the flow of funding and volunteerism. Establishing such a structure would not only improve the standards for training but also the number of trainees, and it would promote the retention of local providers in lower-income nations as well—many of whom leave for wealthier countries once they have completed their training.
But the burden of responsibility does not just rest with physicians. Investors are tasked with recognizing the cost effectiveness of surgical-care funding and supporting focused and well-informed efforts. Biomedical engineers and those in the tech industry can help by designing and manufacturing equipment from local resources that is tailored to the specific needs of a targeted region so as to avoid “dumping used or outdated devices.” Additionally, the media has a responsibility to cover more international health-care-related issues and journalists need to become advocates of much-needed change on the global scene.
More than one-third of the world’s global burden of disease can be ameliorated with access to surgical care. While this statistic is overwhelming, it is possible to achieve with concerted planning and efforts. The first step to reach these important goals is for the public to recognize that this need exists. The paradigm of global health care must be radically dismantled in order for change to even begin.
We have a responsibility not only to share our resources but also to adequately support basic surgical needs in developing countries. Governments and major donor organizations for global health must do more to target basic health services in low-income countries in addition to infectious diseases. Only then can we hope to reduce some of these global disparities in surgical care and meet the basic human right to equitable health care
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