Health Hazards Faced By Citizens of Developing Countries

Bangladesh faces a hazardous situation due to the absence of basic healthcare facilities particularly in the rural and interior areas where development of any type is not seen. Poverty is rampant in these places and the absence of any structured programs by the government to tackle the major health menace continues to make the situation fragile for many people here.

The worst affected are those who live in shanties in extremely poor conditions of hygiene and nutrition. Tens of thousands of children are exposed to highly dangerous and potentially fatal health situations. Lead poisoning is rampant and it is feared that many children already have an alarming presence of lead in blood which has lead to many of them falling victim to hitherto unknown sickness.

High concentration of lead in the blood leads to conditions of serious nervous disorders and even epilepsy. Mental retardation is another serious problem that children can face due to continuous exposure to lead.

Lead can curtail the development of brain and consequently affect the intelligence levels of the child. Mental as well as physical growth is affected which often leads to more serious health issues in later stages of life. Dhaka has one of the world’s highest lead levels in the air with concentrations reaching as high as 463 nanograms which is way beyond global permissible standards.

Natural disasters such as floods and storms ravage Bangladesh more frequently than any other country killing thousands of people annually. However, silent killers such as HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases affect a large portion of the population which lives in conditions of squalor and filth. Young and economically deprived women are known to resort to prostitution to sustain their families. This adds more to the fragile state of health of the poor Bangladeshi citizens.

Then there is this dangerous practice of selling blood to medical institutions for money. Poor and starving men and women form part of a well organized network that sells blood to hospitals and private clinics. It is not uncommon for infected blood to change hands leading to further health related issues for the poor Bangladesh citizens living in pitiable conditions.

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Telemedicine is Helping the Third World

Over the past 10 years, telemedicine has been used for treating diseases over the internet in third world countries. Dr. Ellen M. Einterz, of Cameroon, Africa, says it is a wonderful idea, but, she cautions that the “glitter of satellites could divert attention and funds from the grittier problems of health and health care on this continent.” Basic necessities, like clean water, transportation, communication lines and education are still high on the list of needs.

Telemedicine will not help diseases such as AIDS, malaria, neonatal tetanus, and tuberculosis since the means to prevent them are already known, but the supplies and services are lacking, says Dr. Einterz.

Computers are great if the electricity is working and the workers are educated and equipped to run them. Much is still needed in order for telemedicine to work here she says. Needed more is basic medicinal supplies and better nutrition for all residents.

On the other hand, in Bangladesh, telemedicine may be more useful in identifying disease in the early stages. The country, “spends $ 1 Billion dollars on healthcare but patients are not getting the expected care,” says Dr Sikder Zakir of the Bangladesh Telemedicine Services (BTS). With telemedicine, doctors can send an electrocardiogram image to Dhaka for expert interpretation and perhaps save a life.

With telemedicine, 20 people can be treated with the same money used to evacuate two patients to other hospitals. Case files and queries can be sent to Dhaka over the internet and with pharmacies in place, business will be more lucrative.

By the year 1999 the Swinfen Charitable Trust (SCT) was using digital cameras and email to help doctors in developing countries. Hospitals in Bangladesh, Nepal and the Soloman Islands were benefitting from these technologies.

The Centre for Rehabilitation of the Paralysed (CPR) in Bangladesh has been helped by the (SCT). Both have a policy to get the patients as independent as possible and the CPR even trains patients to be able to work and make an income when they are discharged.

With no welfare system in Bangladesh and a shortage of consulting doctors, telemedicine helps bridge the gap in healthcare. The SCT runs out of the home of two authors. Medical consultants who are located in Europe, Australia and the US give their advice without charge. They keep up with the emails so that if a specialist does not respond, they can look for another immediately. “There is comfort in knowing that help is only an email away,” says the Director of Gizo Hospital upon leaving for Tasmania.

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Software Development: Outsourcing is the new way to Success

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Hunger & Poverty Continue to Affect Rural Areas

The Global Hunger Index features Bangladesh as a country with one of the highest hunger indexes in the world. Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries and also one of the poorest. A shocking 49 percent of the population lives below the national poverty line. Child malnutrition is the second highest in the world at 48 percent. The low social status of women in Bangladesh is one of the reasons why women and children continue to suffer from serious health and nutrition issues.

The northern regions of the country in particular face extreme poverty and frequently face food insecurity issues. Most of the populace is dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Income and employment deficit is rampant in many rural areas where government welfare schemes are not implemented properly.

The primary source of income for a vast majority of the rural and semi-urban population is agriculture. Frequent floods and the vagaries of nature often result in failed or poor quality crops which result in practically zero income for these rural workers who are not skilled in any other job or profession.

The government does have schemes such as right to food and adequate healthcare. Article 15 of the Constitution states that the achievement of securing the basic provisions of life, including food and healthcare for its citizens is a fundamental responsibility of the State. There are multiple programs that focus on providing employment and support for those entrapped in the vicious cycle of poverty.

It is apparent from the conditions prevalent in the villages that much of these projects do not reach the parts of the population for whom the schemes were designed in the first place. Hunger and poverty continue to be the curse of these sections of the society.

A vast majority of the people living in rural areas, experience extreme poverty primarily because of failed crops. They depend heavily on agriculture to see them through for the rest of the year. When crops fail, they have absolutely no other means of sustenance. Food security issues and the need to have targeted assistance because of scarcity of essential services such as healthcare provisions and access to clean drinking water has seen matters go from bad to worse over the past few years.

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Education System in Developing Countries ? Lacks Punch despite Persistent Development Efforts

According to the census held in 1981, the literacy percentage of Bangladesh was 19.7 percent. It was 17 percent in rural areas and better at 35 percent among the urban population. However, because of the continuous influx of migrants, the rural-urban divide in literacy percentage continues to widen.

The adult literacy rate is shown as 29 percent but it is generally believed that the figures could be lower marginally. The patriarchic nature of the society in Bangladesh had a discriminatory effect on the education system and women were deprived of their right to education. The female literacy rate is poor and is almost half of that of men in the cities. In rural areas the figures are pathetically dismal.

Educational development plans places a major thrust on improving the primary education system. Improving the quality of education also involves increasing access to primary schooling, improving the levels of training imparted to the teachers and revising the school curriculum to match global primary education standards.

The effects of the reforms are beginning to show, even if somewhat slowly in cities and other urban areas. However, rural and economically backward areas continue to lack the resources to improve overall educational standards because of their inability to access the development plans initiated and implemented by the government at various levels. In the late eighties, there were strong educational reforms programs initiated at rural areas that focused on providing low-cost vocational education to the rural inhabitants of the country.

The government has also focused on establishment of advanced science teaching facilities especially in rural schools. Training was provided to science teachers along with adequate supplies of science equipment. This is beginning to deliver the desired results with steady improvement seen in the quality of education imparted to students, especially among the female students.

The bane of the education system in Bangladesh still continues to be the poor penetration levels of reforms at the rural level. Teachers are not keen to work in schools located in the interior areas thus depriving students of the villages their inherent right to education.

The government needs to develop more creative and stringent measures to ensure that education levels improves steadily in the interior and far-flung areas and the children studying there are not deprived of their right to quality education.

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