Health care is an essential component of a life of dignity. People languishing under diseases and illnesses can rarely hope for a high quality of life, and as you can read in this previous post, millions still suffer from largely preventable conditions.
During the course of any year, about 25% of our relief and development projects have a significant health care component. You can find information on some of our ongoing health care projects here. We have projects that deal in treatment or primary care, and we have projects that provide preventative measures.
4 examples of treatment projects
- Health Professionals serving in a hospital/clinic. There is still a valid role for medical and health professionals in strategic places around the world to serve with health care institutions. A health care professional’s degree and expertise are oftentimes the golden ticket to make a difference in areas that have little or no access to good medical care or places that are hard for outsiders to gain access.
- Mobile Medical and Health programs. In the last few decades, we have seen a growth of mobile services. These programs include medical care, dental care, physical therapy, and more. This is a way to take good health care to the community.
- Medical and health services immediately after a major disaster event. The services needed will vary from place to place and type of disaster event.
- Medical/health care professionals training local partners. I place this under treatment and would include things such as a surgeon teaching in an overseas hospital, training and equipping local health professionals who will, in turn, serve their communities.
While this list is not extensive, I hope it gives you some ideas of how medical and health professionals are utilizing their training and skills.
4 examples of preventative projects
- Community-based health education programs. These go by several names but the basic idea is to take health and health education to the community in a way that helps them learn ways to take care of simple needs, as well as learn ways to stay healthy. Typically we work with and train local partners who communicate in the local language and teach basic health lessons. Some of these community-based programs are general but others are specific and target groups such as vulnerable children, mother and child, diabetics, “at risk” groups (e.g. HIV/AIDS), etc. Depending on the host country, workers might not necessarily need to have a health care background.
- Water and sanitation projects. Water is a critical need for good health because sanitation goes hand in hand with water. These projects can range from hand-washing stations at schools and public venues, to sanitary latrines and toilets, to clean water projects such as deep wells. Elimination or reduction of water-borne diseases can have a tremendous effect on people’s health.
- Food and nutrition projects. Getting undernourished people to a good level of nourishment can tremendously impact their health. Healthy people are not immune to diseases but they are much less susceptible to become sick. They also tend to have quicker recovery times.
- Literacy, especially women’s literacy. A surprising fact is that one of the most determining factors linked to women’s health is the ability to read and write. The reading and writing in and of itself doesn’t make them healthy but empowers them with a greater knowledge and options of good health.
Again, this is not a comprehensive list but more of a demonstrative one. I hope that it gives you some ideas about ways that your colleagues are utilizing health strategies to engage the people they are working with.
I would love to hear your comments and input on health strategies that you have seen work around the world as well.