Doctors role in International Development

Doctors role in International Development

Healthcare lies among the indispensable needs of humankind across the globe. One cannot imagine a region or locale that wishes to be prosperous without strong and reliable provisions for healthcare for its inhabitants. War and political unrest, natural disasters, pollution, and global warming, lifestyle anomalies pose a greater threat today than before. Sedentary and stressful lives are commonplace now.

As patients, our lives present an enormous challenge to the doctors, more so now than before. It is these challenges that have resulted in doctors assuming a much greater role in our societies now. What would have been a non-existent or hypothetical problem a few decades earlier has taken shape into very real health scares today.

Doctors today are taking much greater responsibilities than their previously defined role of healthcare providers. The universal code for doctor’s states, “Prevention is better than cure”. This has caused more and more medical professionals into taking the lead over their conventional set of duties.

Doctors are stepping onto newer paths towards fulfilling their ultimate motto and discovering an unchartered territory in doing so. Doctors have a preliminary responsibility towards humanity.  A multitude and variety of contemporary problems is rampant in our society. Keeping this in mind, doctors have much more to offer, apart from treating the ill.

How did doctors enter International Development?

The earliest international level congregation of doctors can be dated back to the mid-19th century, with the origination of the International Sanitary Conferences which commenced on 23 June 1851. The Pan-American Sanitary Bureau and the Health Organization of the League of Nations, among others, were the leading international health organizations throughout the early 1900s. These organizations and councils, along with others of similar nature, spearheaded the combat against widespread diseases including cholera, yellow fever, and the bubonic plague.

The formation of the United Nations and its subsequent dominance in international affairs post World War II led to the formation of several specialized agencies. The World Health Organization (WHO), founded on 7 April 1948, assimilated all its predecessors and formed the edifice for international development in healthcare, as we see today. WHO, ever since its birth, has been the leading international body over healthcare and medical dissertations.

Today, WHO is responsible for several international healthcare rehabilitation programs, employing expatriate and foreign doctors. These programs, in collaboration with interested governments, are particularly prominent in third-world countries and war-stricken regions of the world.

The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) is a federation of doctors, medical students and health workers that are focused on achieving sustainable peace and security worldwide. Established in 1980, in the middle of the Cold War, the IPPNW has been making remarkable progress in their inscribed mission of worldwide peace.

The IPPNW has been the recipient of the UNESCO Peace Education Prize (1984) and the Nobel Peace Prize (1985). Their International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which was launched in 2007, has been a flagship success, with a separate Nobel Peace Prize credit to its name in 2017.

The IPPNW, along with their spearheading program ICAN, is exemplary of the contributions of the modern day doctors beyond the walls of their individual healthcare facilities. Platforms like these are a praiseworthy example to the efforts taken by doctors in maintaining a sustainable and secure environment across the globe – the basis of healthy humankind. The many awards and honors bestowed upon the IPPNW and its subsidiaries are a testament to the same.

Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IPDP), an affiliate of IPPNW, are a group of physicians and doctors that aim at achieving the secure sustainability goal, much like its parent organization. Formed as the National Association of Indian Doctors for Prevention of Nuclear War (NAIDPNW), the IPDP is an active group of zealous doctors shouldering the responsibility of a safer and more peaceful world.

Doctors in International Development – by the numbers.

Some of the salient statistics in reference to WHO are:

  • WHO currently constitutes194 member states
  • The Global Health Observatory (GHO) is the data collection and analysis body of WHO
  • The GHO is focused on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
  • The SDGs are presently being achieved through a GHO defined set of indicators
  • The GHO works on over 1000 health-based indicators
  • The SDGs are focused on achieving sustainability above and beyond primary healthcare

The salient activities at the IPPNW and ICAN reveal:

  • IPPNW has been focused on curbing uranium-based activities mainly in India and Australia
  • ICAN has been the leading NGO under IPPNW, focusing on the consequences and effects of a nuclear war, nuclear famine, and prevention of the same
  • ICAN constitutes of 450 partner organizations and 101 member countries
  • 127 nations were convinced to support the Humanitarian Pledge laid out by ICAN (2013-14)
  • The treaty formulated in collaboration of ICAN and the UN currently has been adopted by 121 members

An Overview of the Impact of Doctors in International Development

Apart from the organizations and initiatives listed above, several others work in conjunction, subordination or alliance with them. Global Health Initiatives (GHIs), under WHO, Medicines Sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders), the Red Cross are among the prominent names. Their individual and combined work towards human welfare is truly admirable. It is such organizations and their members that decorate the spirit of humanity and celebrate the fact of being a citizen-of-the-world.

What binds all of us, across nations, geographical and political divides, are our needs and necessities as humans. While medical innovation and technological advancements have occurred abundantly in the last few decades, the aim of worldwide health and global eradication of diseases is yet a far-fetched dream. In the background lies a lofty vision and a flood of challenges, not just to the medical machinery, but to an overall healthy lifestyle.

Keeping all the static in mind, every action taken by each doctor is praiseworthy. It is these doctors, dedicated to the health, welfare, and sustainability of mankind across borders, that are setting true humanitarian precedence.

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