The need

Good health and education are two of the pillars of the UN Declaration of Human Rights. However, because of a massive threefold increase in the global human population (1.7 billion in 1948 to near 7.2 billion in 2016) and environmental degradation associated with fossil fuel exploitation, climate change, shrinking agriculturally usable land mass, unsustainable ocean misuse and chronic conflict, global health is if anything getting worse for two-thirds of the world population. Life expectancy in wealthy societies is increasing rapidly but in transitional and economically deprived countries, life expectancy, infant mortality and public health are poor.

In terms of healthcare provision, the disparity between wealthy and poor countries is brought into stark relief by a comparison between a country such as Malawi where there are 2 doctors for 100,000 population and the UK which has 230 per 100,000. This disparity is mirrored too in all professionals working in the Health Sector. Worse still, within nation states, rural areas and outlying districts are often even more poorly served as health workers migrate into urban conurbations. This is particularly problematic in Africa but true also even in Asian giants such as India and China. When drought, starvation, mass migrations on foot, and refugees from conflict (encouraged by a burgeoning arms trade and flow of weapons from rich to poor nations) are added to this toxic mix, it is not difficult to see why young professionals trained at great expense in their native land, emigrate to the USA and Europe to seek their fortune and join the brain drain.

In summary, whilst aid from rich to poor can be useful if targeted at specific health problems and emergency situations, the long term strategy has to be based on sound healthcare education and training foundations in their own country. The Western model of healthcare training is often inappropriate for the needs of the poor.