Biggest obstacles to decent health care in the developing world are managerial — Anjali Sastry

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Anjali Sastry

From the Huffington Post

Picture yourself going to the doctor. You arrive by car, park nearby, and when you enter a receptionist greets you and checks your information on a computer. You’re led into a comfortable, well-lit office; the cabinets are fully stocked. Your records are on hand. The nurses and doctors are well educated and knowledgeable, their equipment at the ready. If they can’t help you, they refer you to someone who can.

Now try to picture the same scene in sub-Saharan Africa. If you’re wealthy, your experience may be similar. But if you’re not, it’s altogether different. The roads are unpaved and riddled with potholes; it might take all day to get to the clinic by public transport. The queue to see the doctor is long–an eight-hour wait is not unusual–and there’s nowhere to sit. You might have to bribe someone to be seen. The electricity is unreliable; the clinic’s supplies are running low. Your medical records are incomplete, perhaps even non-existent. The doctors and nurses, while trained and dedicated, are not up-to-date on current treatments, and lack access to the tools they need.

These scenarios offer a stark contrast in healthcare delivery. (Our healthcare system isn’t perfect, but it has certain attributes we take for granted.) There is a reason, after all, that even as life expectancy rises globally, it remains stubbornly low in the developing world. In Zambia, for instance, average life expectancy is 55, according to the World Health Organization. In the US, it’s 79.

Read the full article at the Huffington Post.

Anjali Sastry is Director of the MIT GlobalHealth Lab and a Senior Lecturer in System Dynamics at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

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