U.S. Should Expand Peace Corps To Include Health Workers, Fund Health Systems Development in Africa, Opinion Piece Says
"President Bush should expand the Peace Corps to encompass newly credentialed American physicians and health professionals willing to do voluntary service abroad," Robert Rotberg, director of the Harvard University Program on Intrastate Conflict and Conflict Resolution and president of the World Peace Foundation, and Victoria Salinas, a public policy master's degree candidate at Harvard, write in a Boston Globe opinion piece. In 2002, the United States spent $5,274 per person on domestic health care, while governments and the private sector combined spent less than $50 per person in African countries, according to Rotberg and Salinas. In addition, the physician-to-patient ratio in Africa is about one to 14,000, while in the United States it is one to 182, and there are four times the number of hospital beds to patients in the United States and other rich countries than in Africa, Rotberg and Salinas write. "Is there any wonder, given such stark statistics, that Marburg fever quickly overwhelms Angola's medical system and that the delivery of antiretroviral medicines (if and when available), can hardly be administered throughout most of Africa's territories?" the authors ask. U.S. citizens should provide "new funds on a sustainable basis to build and maintain clinics and hospitals, to train more local physicians at African and foreign universities, and to expand a local corps of physician assistants or nurse practitioners," Rotberg and Salinas write. "Uplifting humanity in that way could help alleviate Africa's medical delivery crisis and, once again in our national history, demonstrate that Americans do care for and will do something positive about the welfare of the world's least fortunate," the authors conclude (Rotberg/Salinas, Boston Globe, 5/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.