Both regionally and internationally, the lack of access to health knowledge is depriving vulnerable groups such as women and children, especially in developing countries, of healthcare services. It is crucial that better healthcare services are provided for all, especially the marginalized communities, as it can mean higher productivity and a more solid platform for poverty alleviation, and eventually a more empowered nation.
Incidences of existing and newly-found diseases and illnesses are increasing in developing countries, and the youth’s potential in career development and work productivity are negatively-affected. Severe injuries and chronic diseases may impair youths’ learning, productivity and career choices. In addition, rapid development in some developing countries, especially in cities where an increasing number of youths are residing, has caused stress-induced mental health deterioration. In order to improve youth’s physical and mental health, initiatives from local and international health and development authorities are essential, and solutions have to be figured out at a global level for existing and newly found diseases due to complexity of the situations.
Some problems such as water quality issues which affect health cannot be solved solely using advanced technology. Besides securing financial support, governments of these countries have to liaise with technicians and social workers from developed countries to adopt best strategies and practices. People’s health and death due to water related diseases are important issues worldwide. Drinking and using unsafe water can cause humans to contract waterborne diseases, because the water may contain micro-organisms severe illness to humans. For example, cholera is a major public health epidemic among Myanmar people who drink or use unsafe and unclean water. Moreover, metals contaminated water is also associated with kidney disease. Kidney disease, which is associated with metals such as arsenic, cadmium, and lead in water, has doubled recently and become prevalent worldwide.
Maternal and child health is one of the most important issues worldwide especially in developing countries like Myanmar. Through a global network, Community Health Workers (CHWs) and especially female youths can work together to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality, and promote healthy families by building the capacity to develop and implement a reproductive health and family planning program.
What can Myanmar youths do to solve these problems?
Several health problems need to be tackled and solved together with effective strategies. However, political and social barriers in many countries still prove an obstacle to effective intervention. In this circumstance, youths can play a key role in development of world health in three main ways: 1) Ability and capability to come up with new ideas and innovations, 2) Motivation and energy for implementations, and 3) Enthusiasm and passion about sharing and cooperating with others.
Youths are more inclined to acquire technology knowledge and skills than the older generation. Through technology training, youths have tremendous potential to develop innovations for global health improvement, particularly for health care system in developing countries which have practiced dictatorship for decades. For example, human rights were violated during the military regimes of 1962 to 2010 in Myanmar, and ethnic minorities were oppressed. However, together with Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and democratic leaders, Myanmar youths worked towards a democratic country where there is equality for all citizens. Although Myanmar is stepping into a presidential system where there is democracy and transparency, it is still lagging behind other ASEAN countries in terms of social welfare and education.
Among social welfare issues, health is the top of the concern in Myanmar, especially in remote areas as people from villages and rural areas do not have access to sufficient health care. Youths in cities can be trained to promote health and sanitation for rural areas, utilizing their innovative ideas learned from their school and global events.
Not only can youths implement their ideas into actions within their communities, they can also share their outcomes with global citizens especially through social media. Besides cooperating with health experts from different countries, youths can team up with experts from other fields such as education, agriculture, politics, and economics to come up with practical ways to solve complex health problems and at the same time minimize potential risks and negative consequences. For example, vehicles that use fossil oil and diesel are causing air pollutions in cities across the world especially in mega cities in developing countries. Such pollution leads to hazards in human health such as lung cancer, nose cancer and brain deficiency. Youths can be effective agents in using social media to promote health awareness campaigns on nutrition, health maintenance and disease prevention as well as caring our environmental health, to their own families and communities, countries and even global citizens.
When youths from different countries cooperate and share diverse opinions, it can promote effective prevention plans especially with youth’s input. Learning from each other, youths can empower each other on a global scale especially through social media to play a significant role with their abundant energy, brave ambitions and positive peer pressure. Youths from less developed countries can also be sent as delegates to developed countries to collaborate with and learn from capable leaders and economists, and they can learn how to convince powerful policy makers to invest in infrastructure, human resources and essential medicines and equipment.
All in all, there are three main ways youth can contribute to the health development in their own countries and subsequently, the world. The youth can provide innovative and creative ideas to solve problems, especially with their grasp of technology. They can also be a driving force in the implementation of policies. Youths can also collaborate and share ideas with other youths from all countries, and this leads to a stronger web of international relationships and a wider pool of knowledge and habits from which youths can learn.
By: Mya Yun Hlwar