Takahiko Fukuda writes:

I think the greatest problems is the gap between the developed and the developing world in terms of infant and child survival. This is one of the starkest examples of health inequity.

The high rate of death of infants is connected to three points. The first is poor sanitation, a direct cause of illness. When there is poor sanitation, even a small wound that is not serious under sanitary conditions, may become a fatal wound. Such an accident can be caused by a little virus. For example, tetanus is caused by unsanitary environments. This disease often becomes fatal caused by people not to cleaning up around wounds. Another easy example is when we hear the news that a traveler develops cholera when he gets back to Japan.

The developed world should try to improve this problem. For example, we here in Japan should try to help people in developing countries to build waterworks, roads, houses, and so on. The most important thing for children is water, because water is necessary for people to drink, to wash dishes, and to wash their hands. If the water has a virus, people eat the virus, and especially for children it sometimes is not easy to resist the harm caused by the virus. It is true many children die from viruses in unsanitary drinking water. More recently many waterworks have become improved, but they are mostly in city areas. Most parts of the developing world have not yet seen improvements in their water supplies. This imperfection become worse and worse the more distant from a city area. Needless to say, the work of medical staff is to treat diseases caused by poor sanitation, but I think the most important work is to educated people in developing world to fear viruses found in unsanitary conditions, and help them to prevent disease.

The second point is the great poverty of most developing countries. This problem seems to be worse on surface. It is true that people can not buy drugs with money, but this problem is connected only on the surface to deeper guilt that should be felt by the developed countries. For example, Europeans depleted natural wealth and affected human life in developing countries in the 14th century. Japanese have depleted natural resources in developing countries in Asia from the 19th century to today. Our foolish action causes the developing world much misery. As a result, many people can't get good nutrition, so newborn babies can't grow up as healthy as babies in the developed world. And worse, children are sometimes even killed by their parents. So the death rate of children under 5 years in developing countries is very high. Regrettably, that's why these countries can't buy drugs like us. So this set of conditions necessitates immediate action such as the use of volunteers. Medical volunteers need to be willing to go to where they are needed most, including some dangerous places.

The third point is the biggest problem. This is the weakness of our recognition of the above problems. Certainly, the developed world, including Japan, has been helping the developing world, but the help so far is not suitable. For example, a developed country sends feeding bottles to a developing country, because the leaders of developed country think the bottles are convenient and useful. People in developing country are at first happy and start to use the bottles. But many people don't know how to clean the bottles after they are used, and the water to wash them is often not readily available. So the feeding bottles become incubators of fatal disease. In this way, help without deeper consideration of the developing country's resources or lack of resources is not good for the developing world, and can ruin peoples' health if the timing and context are bad. Then, we' need to thoroughly research the contexts of any developing country's project we undertake and think more about helping people in the developing country to be able to be more independent. And more of us must actually go as volunteers to developing countries, rather than just talk about it.

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