Some causes for concern (extracted from WHO sources)
- 57 countries have critical shortages in healthcare workers, equivalent to 4.3 million doctors, nurses and midwives
- The lifetime risk of death in pregnancy is 1 in 13 in sub Saharan Africa (1 in 4,005 in western countries)
- 1 in 5 children never reach the age of 5 years in many African countries
Rapid population growth, HIV and the resurgence of opportunistic diseases such as TB, worsening poverty and the exodus of local healthcare professionals have all contributed to an increase in the health needs of the resource poor countries during the last three decades.
If we, as Christians, are going to take the words of Isaiah 58 seriously, it is fundamental for us to be involved in global health. This enables those of us who live in affluence and security to identify with, and serve those who have slender resources and little choice; those who are marginalised in the great economic drive for growth and prosperity. If Isaiah 58 is etched into our consciences, then it is simply not acceptable to remain unmoved and inactive.
Throughout the history of the Christian Church there have been those who have been prepared to stand up and be counted, to use their professional skills, the fruit of a privileged training, to serve the poor and needy. Globally today, opportunities must not be lost if we are to prove that the church is alive to the needs of those in less developed countries (LDCs). At the same time, it is a real privilege for us as Christians to be able to work alongside and learn from our colleagues overseas.