Yuko Takei writes:

One can recognize the heartening facts about decreased mortality and increasing life expectancy, and many other undoubted health advances throughout the world. Yet, one also cannot deny the fact that there still are many health problems to solve.

Even if you focus your thinking only on adolescents, many, especially in developing countries, face the risk of losing their health and are suffering from unhealthy conditions. For example, some lose their health because of poverty - they cannot afford to get medical service or there isn't adequate medical service in their community. Others lose their health on account of exploitation as cheap and often illegal labour. And others suffer from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), unwanted or too early pregnancy, related long-term complications, and diseases caused by risky behaviors - tobacco, alcohol and other drug misuse. So, to summarize, young people are among the most vulnerable in terms of diseases of society -poverty, exploitation, ignorance and risky behavior. The behavior patterns established in adolescence. This period has great influence on future well-being. And they build the next world, shape the destinies of the countries they live in. In this sense, adolescents' health needs to be further improved.

Generally, health is related to poverty,and education. So, solving a poverty problem and providing people with educational opportunity will help promote their health. Communities and countries development is a basic need. These problems are solved by political and social approaches.

Then what can we member of the Japanese medical community, consisting of many different professions and related companies, do about health problems in developing countries? One idea is for us to participate with groups - other countries, NGOs, and health related associations which work on community development programs. If one participate as a doctor, there are the following approaches.

First, one can be a researcher about community health situations - people's health conditions, health resources and practical needs for health service. The results can lead to effective strategies for health improvement, when they are developed with cultural and social understanding about the community.

Second, one can take a role to explain basic knowledge about the human body and the means for protecting one's health - information about the mechanisms of fertilization, risks of too early pregnancy, ways of safe sex, the significance of proper sanitation, balanced diet, etc. If adolescents have this knowledge, they have a chance to be free from unhealthy condition -STDs, unwanted pregnancy, diseases caused by improper behvior pattern.

Of course one can provide practical treatment or support doctors and medical staff in those communities. Every profession and organization has various roles based on the field of expertise. For example, a company dealing with medical machines can provide equipment and kits practically matched to the community's infrastructure and cultural resources and tell people there how to run and to repair the machines and use the kits. When they gather together, and furthermore when they cooperate with other field staff - lawyers, community workers, etc, of course professionals and other people in the host country, then effective approach to community development can be initiated.

Lastly, what can we medical students do? We are sometimes ignorant of social situations, especially in developing countries. Then, traveling to those countries, seeing their ways of living and being friends with people there, that is, our recognizing world health situations through our own experiences, may be the first step. Face-to-face communications often gives people power to change their own behavior or their own community. Face-to-face communications changes students and people in developed countries because often there are opportunities in which both parties, that people from developed nations and people from the developing countries , to begin to recognize elements of exploitation with regard to the relationship between developing and developed worlds. This is not to lose sight of the potential for making genuine friendships among peoples from both worlds. At the same time, people in developing countries become aware of their unequal situation, that is, one in which many are exploited, and one in which many can learn new ways of living and of gaining confidence to change their situation.

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