Monday, January 25, 2010

Too much of a good thing? Haiti flooded with doctors.

Here is an interesting CNN report out of Haiti indicating that too many doctors and not enough nurses have availed themselves to the relief effort. The article touches on some of the problems caused by an excess supply in available doctors.

"Among the problems with the large number of doctors, Auerbach said, is that patients can have their dressings opened three or four times in close succession as one and then another crew of doctors come to evaluate their wounds."

At one point over the weekend, a mass of 12 medical workers gathered around a tiny premature infant. Someone called out, "If you're not a doctor, step away!" Immediately someone else responded, "We're all doctors!"

The werewolf thinks that overkill is clearly better than underkill when it comes to the question of answering the call of those in need. (He also thinks overkill makes a great military strategy) He thinks that all of these medical volunteers need to be saluted for their willingness to step-up and contribute. However, other questions are begged by this phenomena.

Why is there such a disequilibrium between volunteer nurses and doctors in this case? At least suggested by the article.

Also, the the plighted sections of the 3rd world are rather extensive and are no-doubt in need of medical professionals, yet, there seems to be an impulse to only step-up when crisis occurs, and ignore the low-intensity situations. This isn't meant as a criticism, but rather an observation, as it clearly leads to the disequilibrium of resources clearly occurring in Haiti. Would it be more efficient, in terms of meeting macro-humanitarian objectives, to ask the glut of doctors in Haiti to be willing to finish their volunteer terms out in places like Liberia, Congo, Bangladesh, or some other derelict zone. The werewolf wonders, expense concerns aside, how many would actually answer that call?

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