Hitomi Baba writes:
Problems of adults in developing countries are communicable diseases and parasites. Communicable diseases include HIV, so it is serious problem. Hepatitis B kills about 1 million people each year, but it is preventable by vaccine. Over 13 million adults, mainly heterosexual men and women, are infected with HIV. Up to 60 per cent of infections in females are believed to occur by the age of 20. Some 6000 people become infected each day and by the year 2000, the cumulative total of HIV infections worldwide could reach 30 to 40 million. In the next 5 years, AIDS will have killed more than 8 million people, most of them young adults, with women an increasing proportion of the total. In the developing world, 1 in 2 deaths is caused by communicable disease, whereas in the developed world 3 out of 4 deaths are due noncommunicable diseases, many of which are lifestyle-related, such as cancer or heart disease.
Of the world's deaths in 1994, 40 per cent were caused by communicable diseases. In the developing countries, it is important to improve their sanitation, so we should investigate sanitary conditions in the hospital, in their home, and in their workplace. We have to know what is the route of infection. If sanitary conditions, for example waterworks, are improved, parasites will decrease. For infectious diseases, developed countries must provide developing countries the skills and information for this kind of disease, and educate medical communities in the field. It is often said that developed countries support developing countries, but this support is temporary. Though economic support is very important, a foundation in health care and health services is the most important point. On the other hand, adults in developing countries may suffer from bad nutritive conditions, so we can also give food production support. Though medical treatment is the most important immediate thing for them,they truly need medical skills and the ability to practice medical care by themselves because these skills have to be handed down from adults to their children.
Why are these adult problems important and why am I interested in them? Medical technology is progressing day by day, but the availability of this technology is unfairly distributed. For example, in the developing world there are many diseases which are preventable if the right kinds of technology were made available. Perhaps the most urgent problem related to communicable diseases is HIV, because there is no specific cure for this, and almost anyone has the possibility of catching this disease. I am interested in this problem not only because I am a medical student, but also because I will soon be an adult. A few years ago I had no idea of being a doctor, but now I realize that in addition to being wife and mother I can help by joining the Japanese medical community in working on problems like HIV.