Written by Alyssa Vandenberg
Every year, 9.2 million children worldwide die before turning five years old. Most of these deaths take place in developing countries, where medical supplies are scarce and treatment is often unavailable. In rural Kenya, where few health clinics exist and medical supplies are limited, the dearth of medical resources produces communities in which treatable, and even curable, diseases often cause frequent deaths. These rural villages may have herbal or tribal healing, but without doctors, hospitals, or medicine, those who live in rural Kenya lack the most basic of medicine and medical knowledge. To receive medicine or medical advice, community members often must walk many miles to reach a health clinic. Those who are too sick to make the long trek in order to receive medical help often stay at home, never receiving the medical care they so desperately need.
According to the nonprofit Free the Children, children who are born in developing countries are more than thirteen times more likely to die before the age of five than those who are born in industrialized countries. In industrialized countries, such as the United States or Germany, basic medicine and the ability to receive medical knowledge is often taken for granted—however, in rural countries, basic medicine and medical knowledge can be the difference between life and death. The need for medical help affects the community as a whole as well. When those who work become sick, their farms and businesses—the means of their livelihood—are adversely affected, and the productivity of the community as a whole decreases. Consequently, when there is an increased ability to receive medical care, the health of the entire community as a whole can improve. Even receiving a basic medical education can reduce the risk of disease. For example, women in Kenya were taught to boil their water before drinking it, a simple process that helps prevent disease. Thus, receiving medicine as well as medical advice has the power to change the lives of an entire community.