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These Devastating Images Show The Global Struggle For Health Care That Works

In places like Cambodia and Brazil—and, yes, even in the United States—the wait for affordable health services can be painful.

  • <p>Indonesia: "Gilang holds an x-ray of his right lung, damaged as a result of Bronchiectasis—a condition when airways are so damaged they no longer clear out bacteria, often leading to repeated and serious lung infections."</p>
  • <p>"Nana Camara, 48, waits to see the nurse at La Clinic Cabinet Medical in the Nongo neighbourhood of Guinea’s capital, Conakry. Camara has been suffering from malaria for four days, but had been unable to come to the clinic sooner due to lack of funds."</p>
  • <p>"In the rural province of Siem Reap, a woman waits with two children for a routine prenatal visit under a joint scheme between the local government health centers and an NGO-funded hospital."</p>
  • <p>"The proportion of refugee children and adolescents in Norway with mental health needs is alarming. While everyone in Norway is entitled to health care, the wait for services—especially mental health care—can be long."</p>
  • <p>"After collapsing twice in one day, Chinese gold miner He Quangui is struggling to breathe, gripping the bed and his son He Jinbo's thigh while his wife Mi Shixiu holds him, crying. He eventually recovers his breath. But in the early hours of the next morning, he attempted suicide to end the suffering."</p>
  • <p>"Mama Fidès sits beside her son, who is 11 months old and suffering from high fever and anemia caused by severe malaria. The child needs a blood transfusion that is not available at Kirundo Hospital. Mama Fidès waits and hopes it will come soon enough."</p>
  • <p>"A woman takes care of her mother, who is waiting to enter a nursing home."</p>
  • <p>"A young girl waits in one of several seemingly endless queues at a clinic in Sindhuli district in Nepal. This specific clinic, set up by an international NGO for the day, was one of many of its kind operational after April 25th’s devastating earthquake in the country."</p>
  • <p>"A mother and her one-year old baby with skin ulcers wait for medical care in a public hospital in the rural area of Palmares city in Pernambuco State, northeastern Brazil."</p>
  • <p>"The high cost of medical care in the U.S. is a growing concern to millions of Americans, especially seniors. U.S. Customs estimates that 10 million Americans bring home medications from across the border each year either from Mexico or Canada. "</p>
  • <p>"Early in the morning outside a primary health care center in Bihar, patients queue up to receive a token from the attendant. The center, which serves around 200,000 patients in the region, only has one doctor and two junior doctors. Everything depends on whether the doctors actually show up—and for the patients, arriving early rarely makes any difference."</p>
  • <p>"Muzammil, 37, is comforted from his pains by his stepmother while waiting outside a pharmacy for the pharmacist to arrive. Incredibly poor sanitation in the area make deaths from diarrhea and stomach infections all too common. "</p>
  • 01 /12

    Indonesia: "Gilang holds an x-ray of his right lung, damaged as a result of Bronchiectasis—a condition when airways are so damaged they no longer clear out bacteria, often leading to repeated and serious lung infections."

  • 02 /12

    "Nana Camara, 48, waits to see the nurse at La Clinic Cabinet Medical in the Nongo neighbourhood of Guinea’s capital, Conakry. Camara has been suffering from malaria for four days, but had been unable to come to the clinic sooner due to lack of funds."

  • 03 /12

    "In the rural province of Siem Reap, a woman waits with two children for a routine prenatal visit under a joint scheme between the local government health centers and an NGO-funded hospital."

  • 04 /12

    "The proportion of refugee children and adolescents in Norway with mental health needs is alarming. While everyone in Norway is entitled to health care, the wait for services—especially mental health care—can be long."

  • 05 /12

    "After collapsing twice in one day, Chinese gold miner He Quangui is struggling to breathe, gripping the bed and his son He Jinbo's thigh while his wife Mi Shixiu holds him, crying. He eventually recovers his breath. But in the early hours of the next morning, he attempted suicide to end the suffering."

  • 06 /12

    "Mama Fidès sits beside her son, who is 11 months old and suffering from high fever and anemia caused by severe malaria. The child needs a blood transfusion that is not available at Kirundo Hospital. Mama Fidès waits and hopes it will come soon enough."

  • 07 /12

    "A woman takes care of her mother, who is waiting to enter a nursing home."

  • 08 /12

    "A young girl waits in one of several seemingly endless queues at a clinic in Sindhuli district in Nepal. This specific clinic, set up by an international NGO for the day, was one of many of its kind operational after April 25th’s devastating earthquake in the country."

  • 09 /12

    "A mother and her one-year old baby with skin ulcers wait for medical care in a public hospital in the rural area of Palmares city in Pernambuco State, northeastern Brazil."

  • 10 /12

    "The high cost of medical care in the U.S. is a growing concern to millions of Americans, especially seniors. U.S. Customs estimates that 10 million Americans bring home medications from across the border each year either from Mexico or Canada. "

  • 11 /12

    "Early in the morning outside a primary health care center in Bihar, patients queue up to receive a token from the attendant. The center, which serves around 200,000 patients in the region, only has one doctor and two junior doctors. Everything depends on whether the doctors actually show up—and for the patients, arriving early rarely makes any difference."

  • 12 /12

    "Muzammil, 37, is comforted from his pains by his stepmother while waiting outside a pharmacy for the pharmacist to arrive. Incredibly poor sanitation in the area make deaths from diarrhea and stomach infections all too common. "

We’ve all waited an hour too long at the dentist office. But what if, in order to get that root canal, you had to take a long plane or bus ride across an international border—and then wait hours, still?

That’s often the case in Los Algodones, once a tiny, dusty Mexican farming town just across the U.S. border of Yuma, Arizona. Today, it’s thriving on a new medical tourism industry fed by its northerly neighbors.

Visitors from the U.S., often elderly, are there in the "dental capital of Mexico" to see the city’s hundreds of dentists, doctors, and pharmacists who offer cheaper services than in the U.S. The visitors, who are often elderly and often wait in line for care as shown in the image below, are essentially migrants seeking relief from the high-cost U.S. health care system.

Los Algodones is one of 12 places featured in the Waiting for Health photo essay, a series that documents the wait for affordable health care services in nations rich and poor. The goal of the project, developed by the Universal Health Care Coverage Coalition with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, is to show the plight of marginalized people who struggle to access affordable health services they need in powerful stories rather than statistics and soundbites.

In the slide show above, you can see other telling examples, such as the wait outside a clinic in India that serves 200,000 patients a year with only three doctors; or the malarial woman in Guinea who delayed her trip for treatment due to lack of funds; or Libyan refugees living in Norway who seek mental health services.

The images were released in December on the second annual Universal Health Coverage Day, where a coalition of 700 organization urged world leaders to acknowledge the right health care for all. Take a scroll through and see why whether you are in the U.S. and Japan or Cambodia and Brazil, the struggle for effective health services is one of the most universal on the planet.

Slideshow Credits: 01 / Yoppy Pieter; 02 / Aurélie Marrier D'unienville; 03 / Thomas De Cian; 04 / Anne-Stine Johnsbråten; 05 / Sim Chi Yin / VII; 06 / Martina Bacigalupo; 07 / Noriko Hayashi; 08 / Sam Reinders; 09 / Ricardo Funari; 10 / Radhika Chalasani; 11 / Siddharth Jain; 12 / Thomas Munita;

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