This morning, I overheard a gentleman sharing a story with a fellow commuter. It was the anniversary of his brother’s death. His brother was 7 years old when he fell ill, in 1974. The doctors were baffled, so they did what was then, standard procedure. They began a series of exploratory surgeries. Surgery after surgery, procedure after procedure, with no answers. After many months, his brother succumbed to the physical abuse of the investigations, not the symptoms of a disease.
After my initial empathic response to this story, I considered that this was less than 40 years ago. This episode seems so sad, because it seems so foreign. Our current state of healthcare in the field of diagnostics has advanced so much over the last 40 years. We would never expect this to happen, nowadays. CT, MRI and laparoscopic surgery have eliminated the need for major invasive exploratory procedures and provide the necessary clues which lead to diagnoses.
It is true that this level of healthcare technology exists in most western countries. Even then, there are many people within the lower classes of these “advanced” countries who don’t gain access to this level of care. Also, there are many countries who are trying to join the western world. Eastern bloc countries climbing out of the grasps of communism. Latin American countries struggling against economic strangleholds. Citizens of these nations are still subject to the practices commemorated in my commuters sad tale.
Recently, I had a conversation with a fellow healthcare development leader. He and I shared our dreams of developing a pre-fabricated system of hospital and clinic components which can be delivered to any third world country. Components resembling shipping containers can be transported via land or sea, or even air. Within weeks, we could deliver a much-needed health clinic to the village of Sidobe, located near Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Or even more current, a field hospital (including radiology and surgery) in disaster ridden countries such as Haiti and Japan. A few of these in the hands of the UN World Health Organization or the UN Disaster Relief Organization would save the lives of millions of people.
I don’t want to be branded a daydreamer, but now that we have advanced our technology thus far, we need to start working on distribution. As the saying goes, “the world is shrinking.” We can easily find ways to get healthcare to all corners of this shrinking world. Whether it be pre-fab or virtual, people need access to healthcare and we need to give it to them.