Micronutrient malnutrition is estimated to affect at least 2 billion people of all ages, but children are particularly vulnerable. Iodine deficiency and vitamin A deficiency are the critical problems. Another problem is that the diseases of the children in the developing countries are often preventable. Around 2.4 million children under 5 years are dying every year from the diseases such as measles, neonatal tetanus, tuberculosis, pertussis, poliomyelitis and diphtheria which can be prevented by the medical measures we have. So if the developing countries enjoyed the same health and social conditions as the developed countries, most children would not die.
What can we medical professionals from Japan do about these problems? First, we can give them material help such as medicine, vaccine, medical tools. Also, we can make money for them by informing some organizations or some enterprises of their poor situation. Second, we can give them another kind of help. For example, we can send people of the Japanese medical community to the developing countries for medical treatment and medical education. Moreover, we can help them by research. Good areas of future research would include (a) How to treat endemic diseases; (b) what is the best way to improve the sanitation; and (c) how to decrease the number of malnourished children. I believe one of the most useful ways to help them is medical education. Because this will help the people in the developing countries recognize their situation and notice "Self help is the best help."
Of course, I am familiar with this topic through newspapers, some magazines, and TV programs. I have previously sympathized for the situation of children in developing countries, but I had never thought that I actually would do something. Now that I am a medical student, I have become more interested in this kind of topic, because I can understand the situation and the problems more technically and have many acquaintances who are always concerned with topics like this, as well as being medical staff. I believe that thinking over this problem and doing what few things we do is our duty. We medical students should remember that we will be doctors not only for people in our own country, but also for people all over the world.