Kaori Mori writes:

Today the gap of health level between developing country and developed country is striking, especially about newly born infants and children. Though the global mortality among children under 5 years reduced, it is thought unequal that over 20 percent of children under 5 die in the developing countries, on the other hand, only 0.6 percent die in the developed countries. According to the WHO, most of these deaths are caused by vaccine-preventable diseases, particularly measles, neonatal tetanus, tuberculosis, pertussis, poliomyelitis and diphtheria. Eight out of 10 children in the world have been vaccinated, and as a result, in 1993 the number of children dying from such diseases reduced by 1.3 million compared to 1985. This improvement should be highly evaluated. But recent immunization gains are being eroded by economic and social condition. Respiratory infections are also serious causes of children death in developing countries. Especially pneumonia kills more than 4 million children under 5 years. In the other words, it means one death every 8 seconds. And they can be a leading cause of disability. It is necessary for them to treat the underlying infections with low-cost antibiotics for a few days. It must be able to reduce mortality.

What we in the medical profession here in Japan must do quickly is to make developing countries' health condition better. Because of poverty, drugs and other medical tools are wanting in developing countries. They need medical help for these diseases such as vaccine-preventable diseases and respiratory infections. In the first stage, we can give material help like sending drugs or money. I heard the money that some developing countries have to spend per person on health care over an entire year is just US$4. But only material help is not enough. That's because they seems to be lacking in medical staff who know how to use vaccine, drugs and so on. Then we should send people of the Japanese medical community for medical treatment and education. In addition, better public health must be realized as soon as possible. From the fact that a further 3 million children are dying from diarrhoeal diseases, help is needed to supply safety water and better sanitation. In 1993, about 1 billion people had no access to local health services within a one-hour journey. So building hospitals is also needed. Particularly hospitals for childbirth help reduction of maternal and infants mortality. I think not only medical help but also other kinds of support such as social and economic one is essential to improve the standard of health in developing countries. Now what should we medical students do? After I become a doctor, I will be able to go to developing countries and help children and other people. Young Japanese volunteers who will go to developing countries to help medicine, technology, culture, sports and other fields are being recruited just now. Or do you know AMDA? Doctors who belong to AMDA work in developing countries or disaster area in the world. I think it must be wonderful to work as such a doctor. If I were to go abroad, I could help them directly. On the other hand, even by staying in Japan, I might be able to research how to improve the sanitation, good foods for children, lower-cost treatment and so on. As a result, I will be able to find out the best way to help them and give them exact advice. At last but not least, it is important for us, medical students in Japan, to know about the facts of world health. While our life becomes richer and more convenient, there are a lot of children who can't enjoy the same health. We have to continue asking ourselves what we should do and making every effort to reduce the gap between the developing and the developed world.

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