What is it going to take to provide better health care for all? This is the question our own U.S. government has been struggling with for several years now. It would probably take quite a bit of time to talk about all the committees, laws, policies and initiatives proposed for the purpose of solving this worldwide problem.
But I ran upon a couple of articles that were encouraging along this line. One article on Womendelivery.org, celebrated the "free caesarean” policy in African countries such as Mali. It is no secret that women in poorer countries have a harder time during childbirth. In fact, in Mali, they have a one in 15 chance of dying in pregnancy. In developed countries, the ratio is a one in a 2,800 lifetime risk – the gap is mind boggling.
Why is this type of policy change needed anyway? To put it simply – lack of money. When patients are too poor and can’t afford necessary treatments – which sometimes include caesareans - they risk not going to seek help at hospitals or clinics. So this policy frees up the financial expense on the patient.
Has it worked? Yes, there has been a noted decrease in deaths of mothers and babies in regard to pregnancy-related deaths as well as a steady rise in caesarean rates. How do we know if hospitals and doctors are not doing unnecessary caesareans? If doctors or providers did encourage unnecessary caesareans, they would be breaking the same policy that made this procedure available. Also, neither the doctors nor hospitals receive any kind of incentives for doing as many caesareans as possible. Further, researchers like Health Systems 20/20 have a watchful eye on the outcome of this process.
As recently as November, 2010, technical workshops convened that looked at the wider scope of the poor and health care issues. The Ministerial Leadership Initiative revealed that objectives were clearly defined; current initiatives were presented and analyzed and additional questions and issues were raised so focus could remain on problems that really would help those that needed it the most.