Masakazu Miyamoto writes:

According to the WHO, in 1993 globally about 51 million people of all age died, about three quarters of them adults. There are some kind of diseases that threaten the health of adults around the world. The primary threat is communicable diseases. Of the 20 million deaths due to communicable diseases more than 16 million are due to infectious and parasitic diseases. Among the major communicable diseases, tuberculosis was responsible for more than 5% of the global total of deaths. But drug treatments can cure people. In most cases it cost as little as US$ 13-30 per person for a six-month course. So we have to make an effort to provide the drugs to those who need them, and ensure that parents take them for the required period, people who die in tuberculosis will be decreased. On the other hand, malaria, directly or in association with acute respiratory infections and anemia, causes 400 million cases annually and around 2 million deaths a year.

The second threat is sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). HIV and AIDS continue to spread relentlessly. Some 6000 people are becoming infected each day. And tuberculosis with HIV is making the death toll many times worse. However, many, if not all, STDs could be avoided if we can use condoms. And most STDs can be treated effectively and cheaply. Even though patients don't receive the care because of the fear of stigma on the part of patients and the attitude of some service providers. Therefore we have to educate to use condoms and receive the care. And doctors have to think about patients' feelings. The third threat is non-communicable diseases. Diseases of the circulatory system account for 10 million deaths globally, with more than 5 million due to heart disease and another 4 million due to cerebrovascular conditions. The number of sufferers in the world from chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases is put at 600 million. This is the second largest known category of persons with a single disorder recorded by WHO. Diabetes mellitus is growing public health problems in both developed and developing countries, too. We have no effective treatment to these non-communicable diseases now. Therefore we have to study these diseases to find out treatments. Now we can only teach people in the developing world. For example, taking less salt reduces the risk for high blood pressure, or being a non-smoker can help prevent many types of cancer. So we can teach people in the developing world how to take balanced diet, how to avoid daily risks such as cigarettes or pesticides.

Then, what else can Japanese medical community do? Poor countries had three times more deaths from communicable diseases than rich countries. To improve this condition we have to contribute to the developing countries in many ways. We can study many kinds of diseases to find out new effective treatments and new medicines. Even we are in Japan. And another way is to contribute directly. For example, medical experts, especially doctors, can go to places where disasters happened or where civil wars take place, and help these refugees, with treatment of wounds or prevent diseases, cure infectious diseases, if they occur. Furthermore, when medical professionals go to the developing world under normal safe occasions, they can teach medical techniques to the doctors there, and also care for patients. These are very important roles for us.

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