The first-ever world conference concerned with improving basic health care has opened in the soviet Union.
The first-ever world conference concerned with improving basic health care has opened in the soviet Union. Some seven hundred delegates from all corners of the globe are in Alma-Ata for the six-day meeting (6 - 12 September) co-sponsored by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). One of the aims of the delegates is to establish a programme that could make health for all the world's people a reality by the year 2,000.
SYNOPSIS: The kind of problem still to be solved by international health agencies is revealed by conditions in this rural community in Vietnam. Poverty, shortage of medical staff and supplies, and, in some cases, local fighting, mean that two-thirds of the world's population has little or no primary health care.
But in this remote mountain area, the world Health Organisation has established a centre in each village to provide basic care, and to teach disease prevention. Each centre serves from one thousand up to six thousand people, and its modern trained doctors are helped by traditional herbal practitioners. One of the basic themes in health organisation's programme is self-reliance in primary health care.
UNICEF's health assistance policy seeks to meet elementary health needs in developing countries by using village or community workers. They put emphasis on using simplified medical technology that local people can readily learn, and on re-orientating the existing health care systems.
The value of local medicinal plants is acknowledged, and the old women of the village are encouraged to teach young people about the various herbs -- how to recognise them and how to prepare them to extract the best properties for curing ailments.
In Vietnam, acupuncture is widely practised. It is one of the traditional remedies that has found its way into modern medical research as doctors seek new ways to anaesthetise patients, and to cure certain diseases.
Despite the development of new vaccines and antibiotics, and amazing technological advances, most of the world's population still have to rely on centuries-old cures. Most health services are in urban areas, although only twenty percent of the world's population live near such facilities. The rest continue to live and die without the benefits of modern medicine -- and must wait for the world conference to supply some answers.