Combatting health inequities around the world
April 7, 2021
Health inequities, the social and environmental differences that limit access to good health practices and health care, drastically impact a person’s ability to live a long, healthy life. Life expectancy varies by 34 years among countries, and 87% of premature deaths due to chronic diseases occur in low- and middle-income countries.
Increasing access to doctors and nurses who can provide routine and emergency care is essential to address these inequities. Unfortunately, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that there will be a shortage of 19 million health care workers in low- and lower-middle income countries by 2030.
This World Health Day, WHO is issuing a call to action: eliminate health inequities to build a fairer, healthier world. At Boston Scientific, our Global Signature Health Grant Program is one way we’re doing our part.
Through the program, we provide volunteer hours, expert insight and funding to global nonprofit partners focused on training health care workers and increasing screenings for chronic diseases in vulnerable communities worldwide.
To date, our efforts have helped train nearly 3,500 community health workers and provided screenings for more than 23,000 people. Here are a few examples of how these efforts are building a fairer, healthier world:
Combatting chronic disease with Project HOPE
For two decades, Boston Scientific has worked with Project HOPE to improve community health by combatting chronic disease through education and health screening.
In India, we funded a new initiative in the Ranchi District of Jharkhand State to reduce the burden of three of the most common chronic diseases – diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease – and reduce premature mortality in India. The program, named United Dialogue and Action Against Noncommunicable disorders (UDAAN), included training workers on active screening, counseling, disease management and timely referrals to providers.
In South Africa, Boston Scientific and Project HOPE assisted the National Department of Health’s efforts to raise awareness and increase screening for chronic disease in the Johannesburg area. The actions supported the Departments’ ambitious goal to screen 8M people for diabetes and hypertension.
Last year, we worked with Project HOPE to support the nearly 2 million Venezuelan refugees in Colombia. In partnership with the Department of Ministry of Health Directorate, the Medical Board of Norte de Santander and La Guajira, and local hospitals and universities, we are developing, validating and delivering chronic disease training.
Leveraging digital solutions with Population Services International
Boston Scientific is working with Population Services International to provide technical assistance to India’s National Health Mission under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Actions include converting manual recordkeeping to a digital technology platform to identify and assist patients living with chronic diseases more efficiently. The transition to digital will also allow the Ministry to have a more accurate count of chronic disease cases and inform the review and possible revisions of India’s training tools and methodologies.
Improving pediatric care with Children’s HeartLink
Since 2008, Boston Scientific has partnered with Children’s HeartLink (CHL) to support the organization’s work in Malaysia. Most recently, Boston Scientific helped CHL develop a regional Center of Excellence for the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric congenital heart disease (CHD) in the city of Serdang. With the help of local hospitals, we are training medical teams to help improve pediatric CHD care throughout the country.