Healthcare – A Basic Building Block of Thriving Societies
Access to healthcare is a topic of heated debate worldwide as it becomes more and more out of reach for the average person. An ageing population, mounting patient numbers and multiple chronic diseases are but a tip of the iceberg of the challenges faced by government as they struggle to make innovative treatments cost-effective and available to the masses.
Medical aid has become a luxury that few can afford, and in many cases, government healthcare services leave a lot to be desired.
Lack of Choices
For many of us in Africa, this isn’t an option. When you go down with something, all you can count on is your immune system.
It’s a sad reality that medical services are often out of physical reach, and beyond the means of even the middle class. Medical professionals are overworked, under-equipped and demotivated. If you’re lucky, you have a local traditional healer that can alleviate some of your symptoms. Should you develop a chronic condition such as diabetes, something that’s easily managed, you’re almost doomed.
This is a reality that’s not unique to Africa either, and it’s time we pulled our heads out of the sand regarding the situation.
The team at brand Robert Nienaber is passionate about raising issues like this to develop awareness about the reality of the situation for many people around the world. In this way we hope to create a culture of acknowledging the struggles of others and encouraging those who can, to act in any way they can.
Healthcare for All Ages
As we know only too well, lack of healthcare has far-reaching effects. Epidemics of infectious diseases can wipe out thousands of people at a time. Many of these are easily contained with preventative vaccines or decent sanitation in the case of Cholera.
Healthcare has an enormous impact that extends way beyond the hazards of death and destruction though.
From birth, our health impacts every aspect of our daily lives. Without access to immunization, babies are one of the most vulnerable members of society. They cannot develop properly if illness is constantly eating into their immune system.
Healthcare and Education
As they reach school-going age, childhood illnesses not only keep young students away from school but can inhibit their learning if they do attend. There’s also the risk of sick children continually infecting their classmates.
Missing school not only affects a child’s academic progress, but it impacts on their social skills, participation in sports and self-confidence. Without adequate healthcare, children cannot have the well-rounded education[BD1] that is vital to their success in later life.
What’s more, when children are sick and stay home from school, they can’t be left unattended. That means at least one parent must take time off. In single-parent households, this is nothing short of a financial disaster and places the parent at risk of becoming ill themselves.
In developed societies, employees are entitled to a certain number of sick days. This luxury does not apply to casual laborers. No work, no pay – it’s a simple as that.
The very nature of the tasks these unskilled workers perform makes them easily replaceable. In societies where unemployment is high, there are hundreds of people willing to fill in for a sick worker. Miss enough days of work and you’ll be replaced – the show must go on.
It’s a no-brainer that loss of earnings is devastating for those living on or below the bread line. Less money makes medical care even more unattainable for the afflicted. Even if they have access to free government clinics, taxi and bus fares to these facilities are often beyond the means of the truly poor. Long queues and waiting times at these places mean more time off work as well as prolonged exposure to further infection and disease.
In this way, people become trapped in a vicious cycle of poor health and poverty. Basic preventative healthcare can stop this cycle from gathering steam.
Care for the Aged
In underdeveloped societies, those who manage to make it to old age are in for a rough ride. Without proper healthcare, the ravages of age-related disease and disability soon take their toll. Although the elderly are no longer able to face the rigors of manual labor later in life, they do perform a vital role in their communities.
“It takes a village to raise a child”
The grandmothers of the world are surely the backbone of the planet, stepping in to assist with childcare, guidance and household tasks so that parents can go out to work. When the elderly are unwell and unable to receive treatment, they too become a burden on their families.
Where Does Healthcare Fit In?
There are numerous organizations worldwide that provide medical assistance and basic healthcare in impoverished areas. As worthy as their contributions are, it’s not enough. It seems there will never be enough funds, experience or time to go around.
It’s well past the time for everyone to realize that acceptable standards of healthcare should be a right, not a privilege and that we can no longer stand by as spectators to this unacceptable situation.
Businesses that are benefitting from global tourism or trade can do much to get the ball rolling, but ultimately, it needs to be a team effort. Businesses, governments, NGOs and private citizens are all responsible for uplifting their fellow human beings.
Assisting societies to grow, develop and thrive must be viewed as a vital investment in the future. By getting involved in any way we can, together we can make a difference