I’ve dealt my experiences and knowledge with WHO’s this year theme Health for all
Let`s define Health for all-“Attainment of a level of health that will enable every individual to lead a socially and economically productive life”
When wealth is lost nothing is lost
When health is lost something is lost
When a character is lost everything is lost
Last year WHO stressed on the character aspect that too in individual level through the topic, ”Depression-Let’s talk”. This year we are dealing with the health aspect in community level and the wealth which is needed to establish the health system
“WHO was founded in 1948 to make health a human right and not as a privilege. We’ve crossed 70 years and still the conviction is as strong as ever”, these are the words of WHO director Dr.Tedros
As a third-year medical student, PSM is the subject which gave me the most joy as it dealt with health in community level. Health is something which is to be learned at a community level for the overall health promotion. Health is the only thing which is needed by the richest and also the poorest in the country without any compromise. It would be ruthless and barbaric to put an option like health or food/education/basic needs among the poor. That’s why this year WHO insisted on Health for all everyone everywhere
Now I’ll tell you my real life impact on community health during my 3rd-year ward posting. 8 year old female named Dhivya came to the pediatric OPD with chief complaints of respiratory distress. She is a known case of spastic cerebral palsy who had lost her mother during labor and father to an accident. She is now under the care of her grandmother. On head to foot examination, we found severe pediculosis affecting her scalp and eyebrows. We asked her caretaker to maintain proper hygiene by providing her regular bath and prescribed her ketoconazole shampoo to be bought outside (as it was not available in the hospital pharmacy). But she didn’t take the prescription and wept about her poor socioeconomic status to buy the shampoo which costs Rs.180. This patients history raised me questions in my mind. Why should the innocent girl suffer this? Is this any incurable medical condition like malignancy or AIDS? NO INDEED. Then there is no point in her suffering. The entire humanity should feel ashamed for her suffering as we are spending millions in finding and drug and testing it by clinical trials. Yet this Rs.180 made pushed the therapy to an unreachable altitude.
Sometimes I get inspired by watching medical series like HOUSE MD and got inspired by the American health care system. But after doing research regarding that I came to know that the health insurance companies only cover those people who are in good jobs. What about the homeless old man wandering in their streets? Does their insurance companies think that is a life not worthy of a medical care? We need a policy from our leaders which establishes equity among people. This year is the time to ask our leaders our basic right, OUR HEALTH.
For a good health care facility, we need people, services, products, finances and information and everything is needed especially in times of an outbreak. A good example of our health care system can be explained by the Nipah virus outbreak in Kerala. This is a deadly virus an too difficult to establish a diagnosis in index and primary cases. But our health care facility was able to tackle the situation and saved millions in spite of losing a few.
Here we are providing health care free of cost and health insurance also free of cost. As a medico from a government institution, I came across a lot of people from low socioeconomic class (as per modified Kuppusamy scale) seeking medical attention and they were given excellent care under free of cost. Few cost expensive services like MRI are covered under their insurance scheme. But still, we are not providing some advanced services like bone marrow transplantation, gene therapy, etc. which are provided by corporate hospitals. This is one milestone we need to achieve.
When we went to field trips to PHC, ICDS, Health sub-centre during field visits, I can see that at least essential health care is accessible to all individuals and families in an acceptable and affordable way with their full participation. We have launched a sustaining primary health care by formulating national policies, strategies, and plans of action as per Alma-Ata-conference. In spite of inequality among education, social status, economic status, etc, Healthcare is the only this we`ve tried to establish some equality and equity among people.
Regarding the inspiring 2018 theme of WHO I came to know that half of the world`s population don’t have access to a proper healthcare facility. Millions are pushed to poverty due to money spent on food. WHO insisted the need that No one should have to choose between health and food/education/shelter. Then what is the solution? The answer is to establish affordable health services for EVERYWHERE, EVERYONE. This universal health coverage can be achieved if and only if the political will is strong. WHO is calling leaders this year to make universal health coverage a reality for everyone, everywhere.
The very special 2 things in 2018 universal health coverage concept:
- First, this stresses the importance of nurses and midwives in the health care system. Generally, they are underrated. They are the pillars of our health care system. I’ve seen a Nurses strike in my college. The whole hospital was stranded. They have the number and knowledge for our health infrastructure.
- Second, universal health coverage stresses the importance of healthcare for older people. It considers their health issues in a novel approach. WHO does not want them to seek a doctor for their diabetes another doctor for arthritis and another doctor for hypertension. It wants them to have a health coverage in such a way that they can whatever the services they need in a single institution with their health-related data and treatment history being synchronized among different specialties.
Countries with universal health care include
Austria, Belarus, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
There is a very peculiar thing about this list of countries. Have you noticed any South East Asian county on the list? The answer is a big NO. In South East Asia over 800 million people don’t have full coverage of essential health services. 65 million people are pushed to poverty because of the health costs. We cannot accept or afford a world like this. Especially as a South Asian Country, India cannot accept this atrocious state of us and our neighborhood. That’s why we should make health services universal so that these people do not suffer from financial hardship. By tracking who is not getting health care and who is being improvised by health care, we can make policy to establish this system. This would pave a way for a fairer and healthier world.
Health is a human right. No one should get sick and die just because they are poor or because they cannot access the health services they need. 97 million deaths can be prevented worldwide when the global community makes the right investments in the right health care system. This is quite a big number. The SDG or Sustainable Development Goals insists on making the right investment in the next 15 years to prevent this death. The SDG price tag in 67 countries which has 75% of the world`s population is 3.9 trillion dollars for the 15 years. These countries don’t have the economic source to pay the price tag (India is not one of those countries we have enough resources). But most other countries have the fund to make an investment in these countries. By giving economic assistance is theoretically proven that SDG can be established worldwide. This could add 535 million extra years of healthy living to the world’s population.
Recently a lot of money invested in health has been wasted due to unnecessary investigations etc. To avoid this year WHO insists on people-centered care. People-centered care means health services are ensured to people’s needs and provided in partnership with them rather than simply given to them. It means the care where people, community, and families were respected informed engaged and treated with dignity and compassion. This improves the trust, experience, and outcome from people and gives confidence and job satisfaction among professionals. This would also improve the quality and efficiency of the healthcare system
Let’s take a look at these facts by WHO:
- 5 million people don’t receive treatment for TB
- 17 million people do not receive treatment for HIV
- 20 million infants are not vaccinated against DPT
- 204 million women do not receive adequate family planning
- 1.1 billion people are living with uncontrolled hypertension
- 2.3 billion people lack basic sanitation
What do we infer from these points? All the above-mentioned care is available now that’s what we are thinking, isn’t it? What is the whole point in developing a care that is not reaching millions and billions of people? We have the good knowledge I accept but we need to make this knowledge useful to the community. Otherwise, all these knowledge are vain.
Social media and mass media: Boon or ban for HEALTH FOR ALL:
Everyone will think that social media and mass media will be useful in spreading knowledge and improving the concept of health for all. But my point is they are better in collapsing the health care system rather than promoting it.
A good example is the MMR vaccination program last year. It was a great program to prevent 3 deadly childhood diseases Mumps, Measles, and Rubella. But it was a failed program. Because of fake what’s app message telling about researches in which they’ve proven that this MMR has lots of ADR?
My cousin refused to vaccinate her child with MMR.
I’ve shown her the researches about the vaccine in PubMed and yet she insisted on that wapp message and ignored me. In the history, there were a lot of failure programs due to mass media also.
. Universal health coverage is more than just health insurance, more than just health care. It means people can get quality health services where and when they need them without suffering financial hardship. Half of the population have no access to healthcare and millions are pushed to poverty due to health expenses. Universal health coverage is the solution to all this problem. Evidence and experience show that all countries at all income levels can make progress with the resources they have also show us that there is no single path to Universal health coverage. All countries must find their own way in their own political social and economic circumstances. Let`s take Ghana and Rwanda as examples,
In Ghana, a remote household receives support from community healthcare workers. They help people to receive relevant health care. I’ve read an interesting story about a 16-year-old boy, Shaibu, who was found to have a deadly skin disease and was spotted during such visits. He was referred to hospital to get specialized quality care. Ghana`s National Health Insurance provides free health services for children under 18. Since 2003, this health insurance covered over 6000 patients.
In Rwanda, Dr.Olushayo Olu WHO representative in Rwanda really wanted to create a community where everybody has a good access to health care, basic services like water and sanitation. He developed a system in which financial barriers are removed. The main problem is lots of their people were working in the informal sector. Generally, health insurance schemes focus on people who are working. So the government decided to create different categories called “UBUDEHE”. This classified people according to socioeconomic status and to know who needs assistance and what level of assistance they need. And the Community based health insurance scheme was rolled out. Now they have a coverage of over 80% which by African standards and by any standards represent a great number and they are now progressing towards 100%.
In India, states like our Tamil Nadu have the glory of having a state government implemented a government insurance scheme. Now the central government also made an initiative, Ayshman Bharat which could be the world’s largest health insurance program.
Universal health coverage not only improves health. It reduces poverty, creates jobs, spares inclusive economic growth and increases gender equality. Strong healthcare systems based on the foundation of primary care are also the best defense against outbreaks and other health emergencies. Universal health coverage and health security are truly two sides of the same coin. Now it is the time for all countries to invest in universal health coverage.
It`s time to talk about the best ways to get health services to all.
Time to remind the world leaders “Health is a human right”
It’s time to have the Right care in Right time in the Right place.