Sunday, September 02, 2007

Slum health: Diseases of neglected populations

Slum health: Diseases of neglected populations: "However, of all the basic human services available to slum dwellers, one that is beyond the control of these residents is health service. Health service, by definition, requires specialized, skilled, or trained personnel. It requires an infrastructure for delivery of care that involves provision of specialized information, physical examination, diagnostic services, hospitalization, medications, follow-up care, prevention, and surveillance. None of these services can be provided or created by the slum dwellers themselves. Furthermore, unlike electric or water companies, banks, or other private businesses, health service providers have little or no economic incentive to move into slums. Apart from those provided by volunteer groups, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and fee-for-service private clinics and pharmacies (usually run by unlicensed or poorly trained professionals or even nonprofessionals), health services are virtually nonexistent within most of the world's slums. Hence, health service is a social service that can only exist in the formal sector upon which the slum dwellers are completely dependent when they develop an end-stage disease. While the world's governments worry and spend billions of health dollars in preparation for the uncertain Avian influenza pandemic and intentional release of pathogens, the world awaits a certain and unprecedented epidemic of chronic communicable and non-communicable diseases smoldering among burgeoning slum populations worldwide . For emerging economy nations like Brazil, China, India, Thailand, and Mexico, this problem may reverse all the economic gains made in the last 2 decades, just as AIDS did to Africa in the last 20 years."

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