According to stats from the World Health Organisation, there is a shortage of about 10.3 million (as many as the inhabitants of Paris!) medical professionals in the world, which makes it difficult to provide sufficient care for patients. Filling this gap could provide decent jobs and stimulate economic activity in the poorest countries.
Doctor? Once in a blue moon
In the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia, patients go to the doctor as a last resort, covering several kilometres on foot (which takes long hours). Medical care is expensive or there is no medic who knows what is wrong with the patient. The knowledge and skills are provided by Polish medics supporting health care centres in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. But they also face adversity.
Tanzania 2020, production: Polish Medical Mission
Many times during her mission, Renata had to cope with things that are mundane from our point of view but proved to be insurmountable in the countries of the global South. ‘Power outage effectively got in the way of our surgical procedures. It’s not easy to help people without access to the basic medical equipment’, says Renata Popik, a general surgeon.
‘I was not at all scared by “complicated” diseases. It was the routine and easy cases that turned out to be a real problem. With fast and efficient help, the chances of saving a child’s life would be very high. I was so hurt by this scheme: childbirth – a neonate with an infection – no possibility to perform the basic tests – no possibility to use antibiotics – sepsis – death of a child’, adds Beata Stecz-Niciak, an obstetrician who has been on a medical mission in Tanzania.
Beata mentions that there is no connection between the efforts made by obstetricians and paediatricians and the help a child receives to overcome the disease, whereas in Poland this ‘gets children on their feet’ within 3 days. The missing links are often antibiotics, basic blood tests, oxygen and trainings for the local staff.
Rescue for neonates
The World Humanitarian Day once again becomes an opportunity to appeal for help. Lack of access to health care and equipment takes the lives of 2.5m neonates per year. ‘We are able to prevent all the most common neonatal diseases, but there is still a shortage of tools to equalise the chances of rescue between Europe and, for example, Sub-Saharan Africa. Incubator of Hope is an action of the Polish Medical Mission and a chance to save more neonates’, says Małgorzata Olasińska-Chart representing the PMM.
Currently, at least 400 million people do not have access to basic health services, and every year the rising costs of medical care plunge the needy into increasing poverty. The Polish Medical Mission responds to the dire need by providing medical equipment to the world’s poorest regions, training midwives and doctors, and educating women on proper nutrition during pregnancy.