A look at child healthcare across the globe

Eye-opening hospital work experience
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The latest reports published by the World Health Organisation on global healthcare and child mortality are impossible to ignore.

  • Every single day, an estimated 21,000 children do not live to see their 5th birthday. Most of these deaths are due to malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia and other tropical diseases that are completely treatable and hardly ever heard of in most developed countries today.
  • The under-five mortality rate in the European region is 13 in 1000, whereas in some of the poorer countries it rises drastically to as much as 200 in 1000.
  • The life expectancy of a Malawian child is 47 years while that of a Japanese child is 83 years. That’s a 36-year gap in life expectancy.
  • Where developed countries such as Switzerland and Norway have an average of 40 physicians per 10,000 people, third world nations such as Myanmar and Nigeria have just 4 per 10,000.

The fact that there is such a huge discrepancy in child mortality between low-income and high-income countries is disturbing. The fact that these deaths are preventable is even more disturbing.

The main reason for these large inequities has been attributed to several reasons, the most common being, lack of education, lack of sanitation and clean drinking water and shortage of qualified healthcare workers.

Closing The Gap

The burning question then is how can these gaps in healthcare and child mortality be closed so that children born in third world countries have a better chance of living healthier and more productive lives.

The answer lies in ensuring that there are more qualified healthcare workers in these countries, not just to provide care and treatment to sick children but also to educate women and whole communities on proper maternal and child healthcare as well as to train local healthcare workers. The ultimate goal is to make these communities self-sufficient with regards to healthcare. This is where you can make a difference. Organisations such as the WHO, Red Cross, UNICEF and several others are always in need of volunteers as well as paid staff to implement their various healthcare programmes in third world countries. Specialists most in demand include OB/GYNs, nurses, midwives, NICU nurses, lactation consultants, paediatricians and public health practitioners amongst others.

If you are considering a career in healthcare where you can make a difference to global child healthcare, take some time to explore the various specialities that are in demand in this field. Also take into consideration your personal attributes so you can determine which one would be the best fit for you. The work may be overwhelming but the rewards will be immeasurable. There’s nothing more satisfying than knowing that you are treating not just one child at a time but you are saving several children from premature death.

Not sure whether or not you would be able to work under such austere conditions? A medical placement with Gap Medics to a developing country such as Thailand or Tanzania would be the perfect opportunity to find out.

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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives, and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.

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