August 2022: Ethiopia: Health misdiagnosis is a major health risk for the rural poor

PBF health interventions: Misdiagnosis is a major health risk for the rural poor

Around the world, rural populations face barriers to accessing health services. One response has been numerous initiatives to promote technological innovation, new management approaches, and new directions in health policy. However, the reality on the ground is that these developments reach only a small proportion of the population. Thus, the effectiveness of these inherently good approaches is much smaller, although it is undeniable that health and social services could be much more efficient.

PBF faces major challenges in this regard on an almost daily basis and aims to address this situation thanks to its own well-qualified professionals such as Abebe Zewdu in Lalibela or Ashenafi Mamo in Gashena. Several obstacles are evident in effective health care among the rural population. One very big risk is misdiagnosis. Accurate testing would actually be necessary. For example, the differential diagnosis of malaria and pneumonia, dengue fever and leptospirosis, tuberculosis, vaginal infections and cervical cancer, as well as other cancers, neurocysticercosis and heavy metal poisoning. Ultrasound would be required for the diagnosis of obstetric and intra-abdominal diseases.

In addition, there are problems related to the health care system, such as limited funding for diagnostic services, lack of specialists, limited laboratory services and access to telecommunications, or lack of institutional support.

The third type of difficulties are patient-related barriers to following referrals to specialized facilities There again, major deficiencies in the organization of health services and barriers that prevent patients from traveling to distant clinics are evident. Thus, the proposed innovations would need appropriate equipment for on-site testing and medical treatment.  Other innovative ways to address social, adaptive, and policy issues should be addressed.

PBF works closely with local institutions, doctors, social workers, and volunteers to reach often distant patients (see the example of Gidey Neguse in a separate report).

PBF runs a medium-sized clinic in rural northern Wollo, in Ethiopia, in Gashena, in Kenya a medical aid and counseling project by volunteers in the slum of Mathare, Nairobi, a support project to improve mobility for severely disabled children in Uganda….