Providing healthcare for all

 

Preferred State: Access to local health care for 100% of humanity

Problem State: 980-1000 million people lack health care

Strategy 2A: Primary Health Care/Community Health Providers

"Primary health care" is a highly effective, low cost, culturally appropriate and rapid way of providing quality health care to the largest number of people in any country.(49) Primary health care emphasizes preventive medicine, childbirth assistance, first aid, basic drug dispensation, nutrition, clean water, sanitation and health education. It is health care provided by "Community Health Providers" who, with 6 to 9 months of intensive training, supervision and regular retraining, can handle 75% of all the illnesses, health problems and needs of an individual and community.(50) A community health worker can provide first aid for injuries, immunization, vaccination, antibiotics, oral rehydration therapy, growth monitoring, nutrition information, iron and vitamin A supplements, advice and help with natal care, births, breast feeding, birth spacing, weaning, contraception, AIDS prevention, the prevention of common illnesses, solutions for sanitation and other community health needs-as well as the referral of seriously ill patients to the nearest health facility. Community Health Providers are a tried and proven healthcare provision technique. China, Costa Rica, Cuba and other countries have used this method to make dramatic improvements in lowering infant, child and maternal mortality rates, as well as raising overall life expectancy and other indicators of health.

A national health-care system of hospitals and doctors organized around a well-trained core of community health-care workers could provide health care superior to almost any in the world, including that found in highly developed countries such as the United States. Allion community health care workers-if the recommended ratio of one community health provider per 200 to 250 families were followed.(52) Lowering this recommended ratio further, to one health-care worker per 150 families, so that each worker can provide even better health care, would cost about $750 million for training of new health workers and retraining of already existing health workers.(53) Providing supervision, regular retraining, infrastructure support, basic medical supplies and salaries for these 1.5 million additional health-care workers would cost about $15 billion per year.(54) Such a system is not fee-based. The collection of fees for any health services provided would reduce this cost substantially.

Strategy 2B: Providing Health Care for Children

Contained within, and covered by the costs of the above health-care strategy, is the provision of health care for children that would eliminate the most severe health problems facing the children of the world. Over 200 million children experience health complications, including temporary or permanent blindness due to Vitamin A deficiencies. About 40 million pre-school children suffer from vitamin A deficiency. At least 250,000 of these children go blind each year. Providing Vitamin A to children who lack it in their diet could prevent this tragic blindness. Providing oral rehydration therapy for children with severe diarrhea and immunizing 1 billion children in the developing world against measles, tuberculosis, diphtheria, whooping cough, polio and tetanus could prevent 6-7 million children deaths per year.(55) $2.5 billion dollars per year for ten years would cover the costs of global child health care plus delivery systems and infrastructure, management, staff training and wide-scale parental education and training.(56)

Strategy 2C: Iodine Deficiency Program

Over 566 million people, almost 10% of the world's population, suffer from goiter brought on by iodine deficiency. Three hundred million people suffer lowered mental capacity and intellectual impairment as a result of missing dietary iodine. Three million suffer from overt cretinism. There are approximately 800 million people in the world who are at risk from iodine deficiency. For $40 million per year, iodine can be added to table salt or water that would eliminate this problem.(57)

Strategy 2D: AIDS Prevention and Control Program

The spread of the AIDS epidemic around the world is one of the most alarming new developments in the past twenty years. There are approximately 18 million AIDS-infected people in the world. Each day, some 6000 additional people are infected. By the year 2000, there will be an estimated 40 million people who have the AIDS virus.

An investment of $3 billion per year for the next ten years in a massive global education campaign that deals with AIDS prevention would dramatically reduce the number of new AIDS cases. Another $2 billion per year would be invested in providing the recently documented AIDS multiple drug therapy to AIDS patients in the developing world who cannot afford this new and expensive treatment. These monies would be spent on setting up the drug manufacturing capacity in the developing world, particularly in India and Southeast Asia where the largest increases in AIDS infections are occurring. An additional $1 billion would be invested in a global AIDS research and development effort to seek a vaccine to prevent or cure AIDS.

Costs/Benefits

The total cost of implementing the Primary Health Care Program, which would provide basic health care to all those in the world who are currently in need would cost $15 billion per year or 1.9% of the world's total annual military expenditures (less than seven days worth), or less than 18% of what the United States spends on alcohol each year.(58)

The $2.5 billion per year for ten years' cost of Providing Health Care for Children is .0032% of the world's total annual military expenditures. The world spends this amount on the military in 28 hours. It is also the amount spent per month by the former Soviet Union on vodka.(59)

The $40 million cost of eliminating iodine deficiency from the world is less than 25% of what the invasion of Panama cost the United States,(60) or about what the world spends in 27 minutes on the military.

The $6 billion cost for the AIDS Prevention and Control Program is about 40% of what the US spends on cosmetic surgery per year, or about the same amount as is spent on tobacco advertising in the US, or about .007% of the world's annual military budget.

The combined costs of the Primary Health Care Program, Providing Health Care for Children, the Iodine Deficiency Program and the AIDS Prevention and Control Program would be $21 billion per year for ten years. This is 2.6% of the world's annual military expenditures or 2.1% of the world's annual illegal drug expenditures, or 16% of what the US spends on alcohol and tobacco per year.(61) It is also what the US spends on running shoes in 15 months.

The benefits of providing health care for everyone in the world include enhanced quality of life, more productive working years, an economic boost to local society as a result of this increased productivity and a reduction in the need for medical care for diseases that are now being prevented or controlled. The economic payback for the $21 billion per year investment would be over $10 trillion per year in money saved by global society.(62) Such an investment pays for itself in less than one day. A return on investment like this is hard to find, to say the least.

Next Strategy >
What the World Wants Chart >

Eighteen Strategies...

...for tackling the major problems confronting humanity:

1. Eliminate Starvation and Malnourishment >
2. Provide Health Care & AIDS Control
(current page)
3. Provide Shelter >
4. Provide Clean Safe Water >
5. Eliminate Illiteracy >
6. Provide Clean, Safe Energy: Efficiency >
7. Provide Clean, Safe Energy: Renewables >
8. Retire Developing Nations Debt >
9. Stabilize Population >
10. Prevent Soil Erosion >
11. Stop Deforestation >
12. Stop Ozone Depletion >
13. Prevent Acid Rain >
14. Prevent Global Warming >
15. Remove Landmines >
16. Refugee Relief >
17. Eliminating Nuclear Weapons >
18. Build Democracy >

*Sources:
The What the World Wants Project is by Medard Gabel and the research staff of the World Game Institute. The material in this section of Media Hell is quoted directly from that research. Credits, Major References & Footnotes >