HOW TO IMPROVE HEALTHCARE IN RURAL AREAS

Living in a place where there is no luxury available and even getting a little access to the necessities of life seems a blessing. Being urban citizens, many of us will run for our lives right after spending a few hours in such a place. We might feel pity for the people living in such conditions. Upon hearing the word rural area, the first image that pops into our mind is people living in poor conditions and mal-nourished bodies. The idea is not wrong, and it is valid to some extent. 

Living in a snowballing world with huge buildings, advanced healthcare setups, one might assume that everyone is enjoying these luxuries; on the contrary, the situation is entirely different. Even in developed countries, you will find a chunk of its population living in underprivileged areas. In third world countries, the problem is worse than one can imagine. Be it a developed country or a developing one. It is the state’s responsibility to provide everyone with healthcare facilities.

Health is the driving force of human existence, yet people living in urban areas often take it for granted. People in rural areas struggle with access to healthcare facilities. One out of five Americans live in rural areas, and these areas have been facing a decline in population since 2010. One of the primary reasons for such a decline is scarcity and access to healthcare services. Rural areas are suffering the most, but things can improve with a little attention from the authorities and social workers. Here is how we can improvise healthcare in such areas.

  • Identify the issues

The issues vary from place to place. Many rural areas have common problems, but one cannot expect the complexity or simplicity to be the same. People in rural areas live in poor socioeconomic conditions, which means they lack enough financial resources to sustain a lifestyle. Intending to improvise the healthcare services in such places, we need to identify the issues first. 

Nurses with online DNP education and doctors are the best resources in this regard. They can give us a real insight into healthcare situations in rural areas. As a layman or anyone without medical knowledge might notice the issues, they cannot rule out its intensity. On the other hand, healthcare professionals possess the knowledge and expertise to help identify problems and offer strategies or solutions. 

  • Factors influencing health 
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Our bodies have their defense mechanism against diseases. The amount of microorganisms that surrounds us is beyond measure. Had it not been for our body’s defense mechanism, we wouldn’t have survived. The immune system is always on guard, but it loses its strength against a strong germ or disease. Multiple factors expose us to situations that can influence our health and make us fall sick.

People in rural areas are not much educated. They are also not aware of the essential health and hygiene principles that can ward off the diseases or reduce the chances of their occurrence. Pondering over the upstream factors leading to a longer and healthier lifestyle can help recognize the root causes of poor health in rural areas. An individual’s awareness about their health, hygiene, and nutrition substantially impact their mental and physical health. 

  • Assessing the  need and access to resources
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Unlike urban areas, rural areas are underdeveloped, and they struggle with resources in general. At times, there are clinics in their areas, but they lack staff or the dispensary. Many underdeveloped or rural areas face the issue of transportation. The nearby hospitals are at long distances, and they have to walk miles to get help. Such situations result in worsening health and even causing fatalities. We cannot improvise or identify healthcare factors if we do not know the needs and access to resources. Conducting a little survey can give us small details about resources and people’s needs in rural areas, leading to better strategies and policies. 

  • Introducing telehealth

The advancement in technology and telecommunications have left no stone unturned. Urban and rural areas are enjoying the availability of the internet and other communication resources. Telehealth has developed over the past few years. It has proven to be effective in providing healthcare services to remote areas. Considering that people in rural areas do not have quick access to doctors or medicine, they are just a tap away to get a doctor or a nurse’s professional assistance. Everything is now manageable, from monitoring the blood pressure to medication or behavioral management, and requires connectivity to a tablet or a computer. 

Rural populations also feel isolated as they lack the resources available in urban areas. Unfortunately, the share they get from healthcare services is unsatisfactory. With telehealth, we can overcome their issues of isolation and provide better healthcare services, 

  • Mobilizing teams 

The Healthcare industry has millions of employees coming from different backgrounds and communities. Knowing that rural areas are suffering from a lack of resources and healthcare services, the government and authorities can still help them. One of the solutions is to make teams of doctors and nurses belonging to diverse communities and backgrounds. Doing so will utilize their understanding of community culture and prevailing issues. 

Mobilizing these teams weekly or bi-monthly to rural areas will facilitate access to healthcare facilities and eradicate untreated diseases. These teams can help rural areas connect with the right doctor and navigate social safety principles. These teams can significantly educate the people about safety protocols and nutritional intakes, leading them towards a healthier lifestyle.

Conclusion

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Rural areas or counties exist everywhere, and sadly, they do not get enough attention compared to the urban areas. In reality, rural areas require more attention from the government and authorities. These areas require development and equal access to necessities of life. Food, shelter, and health are the three core needs of human life. If we talk about healthcare services in rural areas, the statistics are alarming.

Rural counties have the highest rates of premature deaths. Women in these areas have to travel 200 miles away to see an obstetric or gynecologist. The opioid death ratio in these areas is 45% higher compared to the urban areas. These statistics tell that there is a dire need for the availability of healthcare services. Choosing the right policies after thorough research can reduce these issues to a greater extent. Focusing on policies, environmental changes, and counter-strategies can bring positive changes in these areas over time.

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