Guided Reflection #9

  1. After hearing Dr. Schroeder today, does global health look like what you expected? What inspired you, or made you feel overwhelmed?

Speaking with Dr. Schroeder was a wonderful privilege that I am grateful to have experienced. Seeing as how I have been interested in global health for some time now, it does look like what I expected. I have done a lot of research on the realities of developing countries. When she showed the conditions she dealt with, unfortunately I wasn’t shocked. I know how poor healthcare can be in those areas and the conditions people suffer from are often very extreme. I think the thing that overwhelmed me the most was hearing that a life-saving treatment for a person could be as cheap as $6.00 USD. If I was working abroad and had a patient who’s live could be saved with that miniscule amount of money, I believe I would just be so overwhelmed with the ethical difficulty of that situation. You can’t pay for everyone’s procedures, but how can you justify potentially letting someone die over such a small amount of money? I think the most inspiring thing was just hearing how she got to the point she’s at today. Dr. Schroeder has worked so incredibly hard to improve the lives of any children she can. The amount of time, effort, sweat, blood, tears, and energy she has expended to get to work in developing countries is so inspiring and humbling. Obviously the living conditions and lifestyle she has in Tanzania is less than ideal, but yet she spends half of each year there helping whomever she can. That alone inspires me to do whatever I can with the medical knowledge I am privileged enough to have.

  1. Why is the cost of cataract surgery in developed countries so much higher than in developing countries? Is this a trend in health care in general?

I believe the cost of cataract surgery is so much higher in developed countries simply because they can make it higher. People in developed countries often have the money to spend more on a procedure than people in developing countries. They also are more likely to have medical insurance to cover parts of the cost. Also, insurance companies, hospital and doctor fees, and the cost of healthcare in general in the United States is so immense that the money has to come from somewhere. Most of the time, this is from the pockets of the patients getting work done. In developing countries, people are barely getting by on their day-to-day funds, let alone having any money put aside for medical reasons. Often times mission groups or volunteer groups will fund a project or go overseas pro-bono to help people in developing countries. These initiatives kick start a health care change that can be permanent with the right funding and resources. In a developing country, they are often times just looking for something that is going to work. It doesn’t have to be top notch, fancy, or complicated, which reduces the cost greatly. Often, they also don’t have electricity or other luxuries to work with so the options are limited to cheaper alternatives. In developed countries they often want the “biggest and best” option for health care, which is advanced and costly most of the time. We have electricity, fancy hospitals, many doctors, and many options for advancement and new breakthroughs in technology to take advantage of. While this is amazing for innovations, it gets very expensive very quickly. I think that yes, this is a trend for healthcare in general because of the reasons I mentioned earlier.

  1. What challenges must be overcome to provide cataract surgery in developing countries? What would you do to make this procedure more accessible?

The first challenge that must be overcome to provide cataract surgery in developing countries is number of health care professionals able to do the procedure. I think that optometry work is overlooked when you think about what kind of healthcare is needed in developing countries. Because of this, the number of physicians that can do the procedure is limited. I think the second challenge that must be addressed is how to get the procedure done in isolated locations. Many people live in non-accessible areas and it becomes very difficult to provide treatment for them. If there was an easier way to set up clinics or health care professionals in those areas, it would dramatically increase the number of people who could get treatment. I also think if people other than physicians were eligible to do the procedure it could be more successful. If nurses or PAs had the ability to become qualified, that would drastically increase the number of people who could help others.