Rural dwellers often experience a problem of low availability of healthcare services (Hollenberg, Lytle, Walji, & Cooley, 2013). Farmers that live far from cities and towns where professional assistance can be provided are one the most endangered population groups. Addressing this issue will help increase public health and decrease the levels of mortality among these people.
There are certain barriers on the road to a healthy rural community. One of the most urgent is the time needed to locate and reach people who need help in the countryside. If the issue is not life and death and merely concerns basic health problems like sudden blood pressure changes or minor injuries. These types of issues are solved by the local physician or an ambulance that can carry the patient to the closest hospital. Serious issues that require deep knowledge, exquisite skill or simply a quick intervention constitute grave barriers (Haggerty, Roberge, Lévesque, Gauthier, & Loignon, 2014). For instance, if a person urgently needs special medical assistance such as life support with proper equipment, the capacity of local healthcare facilities may turn out to be limited. Such cases often require an immediate transfer to a larger hospital that is situated in major cities. Sometimes a person’s life depends on the swiftness of intervention, and if transporting takes too long the consequences can be dire. Another major problem is the awareness of the rural dwellers of the services they are offered and their location.
Rural areas are often inhabited by older adults who want a retreat from noisy cities. Since the special medical facilities become farther away, elder people tend to rarely check the condition of their health and be less cognizant of the options in times of need. Another problem is that older adults’ health condition declines with age and the amount, range, and urgency of the assistance they need can become a tough challenge to address. Lonely senior citizens are one of the most vulnerable groups. If a stroke or a fit occurs to them, a considerable time passes before someone becomes concerned and valuable time is wasted, which might cost lives.
Some of the outlined barriers can be addressed with relatively low investment. The problem of older people’s awareness of the delicacy of their conditions and the necessary precautions can be dealt with by sending brochures and making telephone checks (DeSouza, Rashmi, Vasanthi, Joseph, & Rodrigues, 2014). If local medical care providers make sure that all of their clients are in good health and know their treatment needs and options, it could ease the burden of home visits a little. Neighbors should also be encouraged to check on their lonely neighbors if possible to reduce the possibility of sudden deaths and be able to report in time for help to come. There are also more fundamental improvements that could be made like building more hospitals in rural areas that can provide care to patients with various health needs. That, however, seems to be a long-term goal and practically the only way to bring it nearer is to advocate for it in the local decision-maker office.
All things considered, rural healthcare barriers pose a threat to the wellbeing and sometimes the life of countryside residents. Among the most urgent and grave barriers is the availability of special equipment in local hospitals, concerns for older adult population health awareness, and low speed of service delivery due to the remoteness of some areas. Some of these issues can be addressed by promoting health literacy by telephone and mail, inspiring neighbors to check on older adults and advocate at local, or state levels for the construction of more hospitals and equipping them with all the necessary tools.
DeSouza, S. I., Rashmi, M. R., Vasanthi, A. P., Joseph, S. M., & Rodrigues, R. (2014). Mobile phones: The next step towards healthcare delivery in rural India? PloS One, 9(8), e104895.
Haggerty, J. L., Roberge, D., Lévesque, J. F., Gauthier, J., & Loignon, C. (2014). An exploration of rural-urban differences in healthcare-seeking trajectories: Implications for measures of accessibility. Health & place, 28, 92-98.
Hollenberg, D., Lytle, M., Walji, R., & Cooley, K. (2013). Addressing provider shortage in underserviced areas: The role of traditional, complementary and alternative medicine (TCAM) providers in Canadian rural healthcare. European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 5(1), 15-26.
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