Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

The One Resource that the Developing World Needs Most

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Last month I attended the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons annual meeting. For my profession, it is the single largest meeting in the world.

I know what you are thinking, this post has to be incredibly boring. Before you switch to a new website, though, give me a chance.

The list of lectures is endless. Every possible topic is covered from basic science to rehabilitation to new surgical techniques to dealing with stress.

One series of lectures caught my eye for the first time. Introduction to Orthopaedics in the Developing World.

Here are some of the statistics they shared with us.

  • 1/3 of people in the third world die before the age of 40.
  • 3/4 of the world has no access to an orthopaedic surgeon.
  • 80% of the orthopaedic surgeons provide care for 20% of the people in the world.
  • In subSaharan Africa, 44% of people are under the age of 15.
  • Right now, Africa needs 1,000,000 health care workers (of all sorts) just to meet their need.
  • The average life expectancy in the most developed countries is 77 but only 51 in the least developed.

These numbers are staggering. The reality of our world is that life is separated into those who have and those who don’t. Those with resources get what they need. Those that don’t simply don’t.

Maybe you don’t feel like any of this applies to you, especially those of you who faint at the sight of blood. These are just the statistics that concern healthcare and orthopedics specifically, but it is also reflective of the needs as a whole.

The same people that have poor access to healthcare also have poor access to everything else including food and water.

Whatever you do for a living I bet there is a need out there that you can meet.

One of the most staggering numbers from this lecture was not one that was mentioned. In total there were over 10,000 surgeons who attended the meeting, but only 100 showed up for this lecture. Only 1% were interested in these types of problems and in learning how they could make a difference.

And according to the panel, this is the problem.

What would you guess is the single greatest thing you can give in a place with few to no resources? It isn’t medicine. It isn’t plates and screws. It isn’t Xray machines. It isn’t heart rate monitors. It’s not even blood.

It is you.

I don’t have the solution to these problems. Nobody does.

But caring enough to get involved is the single best thing you can do no matter how insignificant or little it may seem. We can only treat problems one at a time and we need individuals like you to help.

I would love to hear how you get involved. Share your story in the comments.


About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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8 Replies

  1. Loved when you said, “I know what you are thinking, this post has to be incredibly boring” because that is exactly what I was thinking! 

    But this was a great and very interesting article! I wish I had a great story on how I’m helping but I don’t. 

    However, this is a good push I need to make it happen! Thanks!!

  2. “Staggering” is right!  I’ve been working on a short eBook about the global orphan crisis and have discovered similar conclusions.  95% of the world’s orphans are in developing countries, and are at significantly higher risk than those of us in the West can imagine.

    I’m getting involved by sponsoring several children through small organizations who pass 100% of funds through to the orphanages, leading our church’s orphan care ministry, and using my blog to spread the word.

    There’s a lot more I could be doing, but I figure every step counts!

  3. These are some shocking stats, thanks for sharing them and spreading the facts. 

  4. Glad to help push. I knew everyone would think that because when I go to the meeting I feel that way and I even understand what they are talking about.

  5. Glad to hear you are interested in orphan care. My wife and I are as well. we are in the process of adopting 2 kids from China. And yes, every step counts. All of us can do more, but I am thankful for everything you do.

  6. I saw that in your “about” page after I made my comment.  Congratulations!  We adopted two teen girls from Ukraine, and it’s quite an amazing journey!

  7. This is a hard thing. I wonder how many writers and painters there are in sub-Saharan Africa, too. I would like to help raise up a few.

  8. I would bet that there have been countless numbers of beautiful books and paintings lost to cultures that either didn’t value the art or lacked the systems to promote the artist. What a shame. I hope you make a difference, Joe.

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