Providing rural communities with access to high-quality health care is a key priority for the Fund for Global Health. Rural communities in developing countries often face severe health care constraints: Functioning clinics are frequently far away, quality of care may be low, and the cost of transport can be a major barrier. As a result many people in rural communities hesitate to seek medical care for themselves or their family members until their condition becomes extreme – when it is often too late. Lack of access to health care in rural areas contributes to high mortality rates among children, who often die from from treatable illnesses such as dehydration, pneumonia and malaria. We are working to change this by developing innovative strategies for health care delivery to rural communities.
One innovation being developed by FFGH is our training and deployment of financially self-sustaining health outreach workers who use motorcycles to travel the countryside. These highly mobile health care workers cover a large catchment area, and provide access to care for thousands people who would generally not be reached by traditional, fixed-location clinics.
Our health outreach workers are trained to provide high quality diagnostic services, prevention, and treatment, including oral rehydration, antibiotics, artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT) for malaria, deworming and Vitamin A. We use a cost-recovery model; small fees are charged for some services to patients who can afford the fees, while other services are provided free of charge.
One of the greatest injustices in the world today is that how long you live depends largely on where you were born. Life expectancy in countries such as Chad and Nigeria is approximately 3 decades less than in the advanced industrialized countries.
Within developing countries a further injustice is that rural people have even poorer access to health care than people who live in cities.
As the chart to the left shows, more than half the world’s rural population lacks effective access to health care, compared to 22 percent of the urban population. The highest gaps for the rural population are in Africa, whereas much as 77 per cent of the rural population has no access to modern health care.