The right to basic healthcare around the world
5 Apr 2013 | Blog | Emergency Relief | Long-term Development
How much do you dread going to the doctors, taking medicine, or receiving a needle? Yet, many people around the world would be more than happy to swap places with you – to have the ability to get medical care when they need it.
At Caritas Australia, we believe that access to basic healthcare services for children, women and men is a human right. Many of us often forget how fortunate we are to be able to call up to make an appointment with a GP, buy medicine from the local chemist, or even receive a vaccination.
To give you an idea of how lucky we are:
- In Australia, we have 3 doctors for every 1,000 people; but in Mozambique, there are 3 doctors for every 100,000 people.
- In Australia, we have almost 10 nurses or midwives for every 1,000 people; but
in Bangladesh, there are 3 nurses or midwives for every 10,000 people. 
Access to basic healthcare is a major determinant of health. Many health issues affecting people living in developing countries are preventable or treatable. But because of an inability to access basic healthcare and medicines, millions of children die from preventable diseases such as diarrhoea, pneumonia or malaria.
People living in poverty, in rural areas, and in situations of conflict and unrest are especially vulnerable. Caritas Australia works to enable these people to be able to access healthcare services.
Here are a few of the ways which we do this:
Primary care clinics for camps in Darfur
Ten years ago, conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan caused many people to flee to camps for safety. At the time, medical care in the camps was scarce. With support from the ACT-Caritas Alliance, a local partner Norweigian Church Aid, set up primary care clinics in the camp to provide basic health services to people at no cost. At the clinics, people were able to receive vaccines, medicines for diseases such as malaria, and care during pregnancy. The program also provides health training to people in the camp.
If a woman wants to have her baby at home, I go there. People come to me in the middle of the night and I help them."Higmat, a midwife who received training from the program,
and is now able to counsel pregnant women
Renal dialysis clinics in the Western Desert of Australia
The Purple House was established by the Western Desert Nganampa Walytja Palyantjaku Tjutaku (WDNWPT) Aboriginal Corp in response to the increasing number of people from the Western Desert who suffer from end stage renal (kidney) failure due to diabetes. Many of these people were forced to move to cities for dialysis treatment, and as a result, experienced sadness and loss, from not being connected to family and country. WDNWPT established remote and mobile renal dialysis clinics so that patients can receive the essential dialysis treatment, while still maintaining their connections.
In hospital, people feel lonely and sick because they are not on country, they are away from family, away from their dreaming stories..."Michelle Sweet, Wellbeing Coordinator at WDNWPT
Medical assistance for Syrian refugees
Due to ongoing conflict, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled to neighbouring countries such as Jordan. Some of the refugees have health conditions requiring medical attention, and many do not have the money to afford the care. Caritas Jordan provides medical assistance to the refugees through GP clinics, antenatal and postnatal care, providing essential medicines, and referring people to hospital when needed.
As we were expecting twins, a doctor advised us that we would probably need an incubator. The hospitals are not functioning. It’s too dangerous to try to reach them. So when I found my name was not on the wanted list, we came to Jordan"Fawaz, a Syrian refugee who has received medical assistance from Caritas Jordan. He and his wife escaped to Jordan just a few days before his wife was due with twins.
These are just some of the ways in which we work to ensure people have access to basic health care services. Many of the health activities we are involved in are part of wider community programs, as we recognise that good health relies on many other factors, including clean water and sanitation, nutritious foods, education and strong social networks. Through working closely with communities, we aim to empower them to have greater control over their health and wellbeing.
Learn more about Caritas Australia’s health programs
 World Health Organization Global Health Observatory – Health Workforce
 World Health Organization Global Health Observatory – Causes of child mortality
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