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Health Care in Third World Countries In many third world countries, disease and hunger are not only existent, but also a way of life. Disease and hunger happen in these countries because of natural disasters and of epidemics that, in our culture would be treated immediately. Due to economic problems, shortage of educated medical workers and supplies to repair damages, the populations of some third world countries are left hungry, sick, wounded, or dead. Imagine the devastation of being without shelter, clean drinking water, or food amidst the worst hurricane of the last two centuries. Imagine one having violent fevers due to the body being invaded with parasites, caused by a vicious disease and being without medical care for as long as two years. Imagine the disparity and helplessness of watching a child withering away after contracting AIDS and watching it die from pain, illness, or malnutrition.
Many third world countries suffer from such problems, but health care and services are neither available to them nor existent. In these cases, outside sources, such as relief groups, humanitarian organizations and wealthy countries step in to care for these countries. As it was an awesome display of power and destruction, Hurricane Mitch will be remembered as the deadliest hurricane in the western hemisphere in the last two centuries. Hurricane Mitch was at its worst when it struck Central America; it was so vicious it took nearly a week before the magnitude of the storm finally began to move out of the area. Having lost an estimated eleven thousand people, observers reported that it would take years for Central America to recover from the devastation of the hurricane. It was also reported that over two million people were displaced in the disaster.
The kilometers per hour when it reached the winds of Hurricane Mitch exceeded 250 shores of Central America. Although the strong winds made the hurricane a Category 5 storm (the strongest classification) the rain, which in some places fell to 1300 millimeters, was what caused much of the damage. It was responsible for the damages in Honduras, including wrecked homes, damaged crops, and dirty water, and many, many deaths. Rivers swelled and overflowed, washing away Honduras capital, Tegucigalpa. Mudslides buried victims under thousands of tons of mud and debris.
In one case, the heavy rain burst the walls of a volcano, sending a wall of mud sliding down the mountain. The mudslide, that covered eighty square kilometers, wiped out millions of homes and killed more than one thousand, five hundred people. Floodwaters also ruined crops, and destroyed roads and bridges. Following the hurricane, it was very difficult for the people of Honduras to continue the cultivation of the land because the water had destroyed seventy percent of the crops. Major roads and bridges had been washed away and survivors found themselves cut off from food and fuel supplies.
The excessive water and mud also made finding suitable drinking water impossible. Sewage overflowed and all the water was thick and brown from the backup of the sewage and the incredible mudslides. Dead bodies also littered Honduras. This lead to abundance of diseases in the survivors. (Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000) As the whole country was devastated, there was no one to care for any of the survivors or to help them repair all of the damages to their country.
Even under normal circumstances, health care and services were scarce to the people of Honduras. After Hurricane Mitch, they were forced to rely on outside sources to help. The American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and other organizations were all volunteers to help Honduras deal with the devastation of the hurricane. The American Red Cross raised fifty-one million dollars for the relief in Honduras. Of that amount, twenty-seven thousand dollars was used for long-term recovery projects. Whole communities were rebuilt and water and waste sanitation systems were put in.
Money was donated for food and agricultural support. Physicians were flown in to care for the wounded and to treat illnesses that the people had contracted due to poor drinking water. Many volunteers and rescue workers, fearing disease, burned the dead bodies or buried them in mass graves. Fourteen million dollars was spent on immediate relief items such as food, water purification, medicine and medical assistance to seven hundred and fifty thousand people. The other ten million dollars was used for disaster preparation for Central America.
With this they could respond more effectively to natural disasters in the future. (web) Doctors Without Borders is a team of medical doctors whose mission is to help countries that are in need of medical care where it is not available. They were able to not only treat many patients, but also those that were virtually inaccessible to get to. As many roads and bridges were demolished from the storm, Doctors Without Borders were able to reach thousands of wounded and sick people by helicopter and boat. The teams monitored and treated people whom they expected had cholera, malaria, dengue fever, leptospirosis, and other infectious diseases. Other teams were in charge of improving water and sanitation facilities to prevent further spread of disease and smaller groups were in charge of repairing roads and infrastructure. (web) Malaria is a disease that is transmitted to humans by female mosquitoes called Anopheles Aquasalis and Anopheles Darlingi.
The female mosquito produces the protozoan known as Plasmodium in her stomach after she has bitten a malaria-infected person. When she bites another person, the mosquito releases the protozoan of the Plasmodium genus into the human body and the protozoan reproduces in the human liver. From there, the reproductions enter the bloodstream and attack the red blood cells and multiply rapidly, rupturing the blood cells. The rupturing is what causes the symptoms of malaria in humans. The Anopheles Darlingi is the widest spread in Guyana, covering the largest amount of area (see Figure 2) (web).
People who are infected with Malaria experience horrific fevers, headaches, convulsions and delirium. Fevers can range higher than 104. C and can often be fatal. They can last as long as four days and most often return within three days if not treated. Malaria-infected people shiver often, due to fever, vomit repeatedly, and in many cases go into a coma and have severe anemia if not treated immediately. Sadly, many do not receive treatment soon enough.
There are medical doctors in Guyana, but unfortunately many of the people cannot afford to see a doctor nor can they afford the treatments. Quinine is a drug that reduces fever in the treatment of Malaria. Doxycycline is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections and is effective when treating Malaria. However, many people who contract Malaria have no access to a medical doctor or professional and do not have the resources to attain the drugs to help get rid of the disease. In Guyana, thousands of the people who get Malaria live in the rainforest, and appropriate repellant's to get rid of the Anopheles mosquitoes are unavailable. (Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000). Malaria is the disease that hits the poor more than any other disease.
The rainy season is the time for intense agricultural activity in many regions and it is at this time that most poor families bring in the most income. Unfortunately, it is also prime time for mosquitoes. Malaria makes these families even poorer with the loss of workers and any saved money goes to trying to save the victim. Chronic Malaria leads to absenteeism in schoolchildren, which leads to the children being held back in their educations (web). VE AHAVTA is a humanitarian group that responds to the needs of victims of natural or man-made disasters all over the world.
They collect and distribute monetary and material relief with pharmaceutical and medical donations. They chose to contribute to Guyana by conducting a medical mission because Guyana has a high rate of Malaria and other infectious and tropical diseases. Guyana is extremely impoverished in some areas [actually the second poorest country in the western hemisphere (Young, 20) ], and many people cannot afford medical treatments for their illnesses; therefore they rely on groups such as Ve ahava to supply medical treatments and for them. Volunteering doctors, nurses, microbiologists and physiotherapists spend two and a half weeks in Guyana each year assessing diseases and administering vaccines, medicine, painkillers, and vitamins to the people of Guyana. These medical are for immediate use and also to take throughout the year. This way, the people can have some quality of life and attain self-sustainability in their health care, since there are normally no doctors to assist them with this.
They travel by boat from area to area to thousands of patients that have been lined up for hours and who may have been waiting more than a year for a visit from the doctors. People literally come out of the jungle, some of them having walked for days to get there (Young, 20). Most of the patients are sick and dying from Malaria, infections, typhoid and other diseases. The microbiologists set up makeshift laboratories under tents and in schools (see Figure 3) and lay mattresses on the floors for the patients to lie on and be examined. They focus on medications available to the people in the impoverished country to study and refine after they leave Guyana (Eisenstat [Online]). AIDS is a fast-spreading virus that affects men, women and children all over the world.
AIDS is spreading the fastest on the continent of Africa. In fact, in some parts of Africa, thirty-six percent of adults have HIV (see Figure 4) The percentage of children is enormous as twelve and a half million children have lost their parents to AIDS in Africa. In Zimbabwe, with a population of eleven million, there are six hundred thousand orphans. (Dimanno, The Toronto Star). It is contracted through heterosexual sex in Africa, for the most part (Vieira, page 44) and is also transmitted to fetuses from their mothers (Rubenstein, pages 102 - 103).
People who have AIDS show many signs of their disease. They experience persistent fevers and diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, swollen glands, oral thrush, coughing, shortness of breath, skin rashes, bruising, bleeding and neurological problems (Gong, pages 49 - 53). Many impoverished third world countries, like those in Africa, are in need of treatments and medicine, but are unable to afford them. Many HIV and AIDS patients pay anywhere from ten to sixty thousand United States dollars per year for anti-retroviral medications (Dimanno, The Toronto Star).
This amount of money is more than many Africans annual income. As the African market only compromises one per cent of global pharmaceutical spending, large pharmaceutical companies do not want to supply drugs to these countries because they know that they will not make any money from it. Unfortunately for these people, anti-retroviral medications have been proven the most successful and have also been proven to reduce the risk of mother-to-child transmission of the disease. Instead, people with AIDS are given miracle drugs that are very inexpensive. However, they find out afterwards that the drugs do not treat HIV or AIDS and the money that was spent has been wasted.
Drugs that have been approved in Western civilizations for treating AIDS patients, such as Nevirapine and Viramune, are in some cases banned or have not been approved by governments of African countries. Some advancement has been made in inventing an AIDS vaccine. However, the process of marketing this drug may take decades, and even when it does come out on the market, it will be very, very expensive (Dimanno, The Toronto Star). Although Africans find it hard to get treatment, there are outside sources that help them get what they need. Doctors sometimes smuggle in AIDS drugs to Africa and volunteer medical teams travel to countries such as Zimbabwe to treat infected people and administer AIDS drugs. This way there is no charge to the patients for the medication.
Medical teams such as Doctors Without Borders and those from Ve ahava also train any local physicians, nurses and pharmacists so that programs can continue after they leave. Social workers also travel to Africa to talk to patients about contraception and family planning. Condoms are often distributed to attempt to cease the spread of the virus and women are taught of the risks to their unborn children of HIV and AIDS. Most babies that are born with HIV don t live past the age of eight. The drug AZT is also administered to women to reduce the risks of transmitting the AIDS virus to their babies.
The AZT drug will reduce the risks by about twenty-five percent (web). As most third world countries cannot afford their health care, it has been made the responsibility of those who can to help them. Health care is so expensive for some countries that they would often die or their conditions would get worse. So many fatalities have occurred already due to world problems such as epidemics and natural disasters. Without outside relief, many more people would be dead or living in great discomfort.
Volunteer relief and medical teams are needed in impoverished countries to help improve conditions and quality of life, and to ensure that the people, live longer, healthier lives. References Dimanno, Rosie. A Dire Time, Toronto Star, July 16, 2000. Pages B 1 and B 3 Eisenstat, Jonathan Dr. A Physicians Diary. [Online Response Paper] Available web November 3. 2000. Gong, Victor Dr.
Signs and Symptoms of AIDS. AIDS: Facts and Issues. Edited by Victor Gong, M. D. London: Rutgers University Press, 1986. Herman, Alyssa.
Doctors Without Borders Response to the Mitch Disaster. [Online] Available web October 22, 2000. Rubenstein, Are. Children With AIDS and the Public Risk. AIDS: Facts and Issues.
Edited by Victor Gong, M. D. London: Rutgers University Press, 1986. Stone, Stephanie.
Ve ahava s Guyana Medical Mission 2000. [Online] Available web November 3, 2000. Stone, Stephanie. Zimbabwe Medical Mission [Online] Available web November 3, 2000. Validum, Lloyd Dr. Guyana. [Online] Available web November 2, 2000. Validum, Lloyd Dr.
Trends: Malaria in Guyana. [Online] Available web November 2, 2000. Vieira, Jeffrey. The Haitian Link. AIDS: Facts and Issues.
Edited by Victor Gong, M. D. London: Rutgers University Press, 1986. Young, Michele. Lending a Helping Hand in Foreign Land, This Week Sunday Edition, March 21, 1999, page 20.
The American Red Cross: The Americas Region. [Online] Available web October 22, 2000. Central America Devastated By Hurricane Mitch, Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2000. web 1997 - 2000 Microsoft Corporation. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration- Hurricane Mitch Special Coverage [Online] Available web November 15, 2000. The World Health Organization Malaria [Online] Available web.
November 15, 2000.
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