How Doctors Worldwide Is Improving Global Health Care

How Doctors Worldwide Is Improving Global Health Care

SURREY, United Kingdom — Health care is essential to all areas of life, with millions being born and millions dying every year. There are many issues facing global health care systems today that the charity Doctors Worldwide aims to overcome. Doctors Worldwide was established in 2001 by international medics following their aid work during the Balkan conflicts.

Issues

According to St. George’s University School of Medicine, “economic disparities,” poor access to health care and chronic diseases are among the main issues facing global health care today. Wealth inequality and economic disparities lead to health disparities, wherein people with less money receive a lower quality of health care or experience difficulty accessing health care.

According to the World Bank, 8% of the world — 648 million people — live in extreme poverty, directly impacting their ability to access health care services.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that chronic diseases like cancer and diabetes are the reason for 70% of all deaths globally. In 2020 alone, 18 million people were diagnosed with cancer and 10 million people died from cancer across the world.

There is also a global shortage of medical professionals. According to data from the WHO, “over 40% of WHO Member States report to have less than 10 medical doctors per 10,000 population.” In 2010, the WHO recorded that there were 9.2 million doctors and 18.1 million nurses worldwide compared to a global population of 6.9 billion people. While the number of medical staff is likely to have increased since then, so has the population, with now over 8 billion people in the world. Due to the high demand for their skills, health care workers can immigrate to other countries for higher pay. This is one factor explaining why only 3% of the world’s health care professionals reside in Africa, despite Africa facing over 22% of the global burden of disease.

Who are Doctors Worldwide?

Doctors Worldwide believe that “access to quality health care is not a privilege, it is a human right.” The charity focuses on supporting local organizations around the world to improve access to health care, health care services and emergency response aid through funding and training. Doctors Worldwide provides the resources needed to help grassroots organizations thrive, from equipment to management training to medical knowledge.

Improving health services involves building on existing systems and making them more efficient and effective for the best health care possible. Meanwhile, improving emergency response aid focuses on providing crisis training to local communities in high-risk areas (as they make up 90% of first responders during a crisis) and assisting before and after humanitarian emergencies.

Sustainable Change

Long-lasting, sustainable change is a key tenet of Doctors Worldwide’s approach. They collaborate with local communities, organizations and governments to help build their capacity and provide training to strengthen existing health care efforts. A particular focus is given to increasing access and sharing knowledge.

Doctors Worldwide try to cultivate a deep understanding of the communities that they are aiding, as making long-lasting changes on a local level is impossible without understanding the context of a particular community’s health care issues and respecting local customs. Doctors Worldwide aims to empower local communities and involve them in the development of solutions, as they believe that “long-term and sustainable solutions to health care access must be owned, led and developed by the local communities.” Doctors Worldwide provides long-term commitments to the communities they aid to create sustainable change.

Impact on Global Health Care

Since its establishment over 20 years ago, Doctors Worldwide has impacted or saved more than 4 million people. They have undertaken 127 medical projects in 26 countries, from Asia to Africa to Central America, including building and rehabilitating hospitals and clinics. Doctors Worldwide has helped over 200 hospitals and clinics, including one children’s hospital and six maternity clinics. Thanks to Doctors Worldwide, 101,884 mothers and babies received the birth care they needed, providing them with a safe start to life. Doctors Worldwide has assisted 16 humanitarian emergencies, helping in Sri Lanka following the 2004 Tsunami and in Kashmir following the 2005 earthquake. They have also provided aid for the East Africa Famine, the Rohingya crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Current Projects

Doctors Worldwide is currently running an appeal to help with emergency aid for the floods in Pakistan. Devastating floods have washed over Pakistan, affecting 33 million people. Over 1,700 people have died, and millions more are without clean drinking water. So far, Doctors Worldwide has provided 1,208 households with family resource packages and is involved in the rebuilding of three rural health clinics that provide free health care for almost 500,000 people. Doctors Worldwide is also providing aid to those affected by the 2023 Türkiye-Syria earthquake, where over 51,000 people died, and 26 million people need humanitarian aid.  Currently, Doctors Worldwide has given emergency relief and medical aid to over 165,000 people.

Thanks to Doctors Worldwide, the lives of millions of people have been changed for the better. With further investments in global health care, it may one day be possible for health care to be accessible to everyone.

– Tasha B. Johnson
Photo: Unsplash