World medicine – how do you provide equivalent medical care in a society with disparities.

How can I you provide similar healthcare for people in Africa Asia the United States and Eastern Europe? can this be done?

So what is different?

Much can be said about differences when providing healthcare in various locations in the world. Of course the knowledge of the local doctor differs due to different academic education and practical training.  The differences are robust in infrastructure capacity and availability of care. While local doctors in Africa deal on a daily basis in a wide range of subspecialties, their colleagues in the west do not usually manage a complex case alone as they are managed by a multi-disciplinary team of specialists and local physicians. Medications vary from country to country and of course the proficiency and availability in surgical procedures vary between areas even within the same country.

So what is similar?

It seems much more relevant and interesting to speak about the similarities then discussing what is missing. In every place in the world there are health care personnel that have formal academic education; Doctors, nurses and assistants. There are networks of healthcare personnel so the healthcare provider is able to consult and refer patients. Medical language is a main communication tool for efficient networking. Today with available translation programs language barriers are less of a challenge. The world today is much more connected even in distant locations there is cellular reception. Did you know that there are more cellular phones than toilets in the world? Of course not always the communication is stable and sometime the reception is in good but even in different parts of the world there is an ability today to send messages and short videos.

The main question is what do we do with the similarities and differences?

There are various telemedicine initiatives to bridge the gap by technology and provide medical services in various places of the world. For example, I volunteer as an interpreter for TeleEEG that provides medical interpretation of EEGs for centers in Asia and Africa (by the way more neurologists are needed). We are able to provide much more healthcare to underserviced populations with technology. This is possible and can assist bridging gaps between populations in the world.

Some practical tips for world medicine:

1-  working with a local physician is highly recommended

2-  flexibility is essential to think about creative ways to provide care in a different way then we usually practice.

3- it is important to always that the patient would not only understand the recommendation but also the reasoning behind it.