How to ensure the rural poor get access to healthcare

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How to ensure the rural poor get access to healthcare

Despite the rapid development in medical science, healthcare infrastructure is not accessible to a majority of the world’s poor. Though things are improving slowly, the pace has not kept up with the requirements on the ground. In this article, we’ll see how we can help the rural poor get medical treatment.

Opening primary healthcare centres in unpenetrated areas – There are many places across the world where modern allopathic healthcare is almost non-existent. Governments and nonprofits can help people in need by opening at least primary health centres in such areas. Though the main challenges faced could be the non-availability of staff, medicines, equipment, or other resources, a firm commitment to providing healthcare to the needy can solve this.

Formulating laws to cap health expenditure- In many places, there are more private health clinics and hospitals than public ones. Their quality of care is somewhat better than that of government hospitals. However, many unethical private healthcare providers tend to jack up treatment costs for increasing profit, many of them do not care about the person’s profile.

Encouraging healthcare professionals to work in rural areas- This is also quite challenging. Many governments are now making it mandatory for interns to work in rural areas to cater to the dire need of professionals there.

Making important medications accessible everywhere- To provide medical treatment for the poor and ensure they have the medicines they need, many governments encourage pharmacists and corporates to distribute and sell medicines in rural areas.

Using technology to provide healthcare to remote areas – To provide medical aid to smaller and remote villages, many governments are using the power of technology to do the same. Video conferencing with doctors works well here- though it cannot solve the challenge completely. Other ideas that have been implemented include mobile primary healthcare clinics and periodical visits by healthcare professionals to these remote areas.

Conduct health camps to raise awareness- Many rural areas face specific health problems. For instance, cataracts in older people or skin and stomach ailments due to unhealthy activities or pollution. In the interest of public health, many governments and NGOs conduct health camps to treat those who have similar ailments. Public awareness programs should also be conducted to encourage healthy practices.

Take action against quackery- Taking advantage of the desperation of some patients, imposters set up fake health ‘centers’ where they try to ‘heal’ people using questionable means. Not only are these people unskilled, but they also cheat genuine patients of their money who hope these quacks can ‘cure’ them. Though this practice is in decline in urban areas, it is a huge problem in rural areas across Africa and Asia.

Prevent the distribution of counterfeit medicines- Just as with the case of quackery, some unscrupulous people will go to any length to take advantage of those in need. Many times, counterfeit medicines show up in genuine pharmacies around the world. The main countries producing generic drugs- India and China, are also accused of distributing counterfeit drugs across the world. Authorities are working hard to ensure these drugs are removed from the healthcare system, but this is a recurring problem that takes time. However, those who end up paying through their nose for these counterfeit medicines may end up with worsening health problems.

Provide affordable insurance to everyone- Sometimes, the poor patients tend to bear with their conditions as they do not have the money needed to pay for expensive treatments. In the absence of public healthcare services, governments can still help the poor get their medical treatment with the help of health insurance policies. Many governments and corporations do provide insurance to their employees, but it is sometimes not enough. Private insurance can be expensive but can be subsidized for better penetration.

Last words

Ensuring complete healthcare infrastructure penetration can be challenging, but it can be done with the help of all stakeholders. For example, the Catholic connect foundation works towards healing the sick for free, besides government schemes that subsidise healthcare for the poor. Let us pledge to help those in need, by donating a small part of our incomes to the welfare of the poor.

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