Itzel Olivares Varela

Submitted 2022-11-01

Having been born and raised in a country as diverse as Mexico, having had the opportunity to live in England and Spain, and having visited more than 20 countries, has allowed me to understand that health is a complex term and that this complexity lies in the fact that it is a phenomenon integrated by dimensions such as the physiological, social, emotional and environmental aspects; and that despite this, the majority view prioritises the physiological aspect and therefore leaves aside the other conditions.

My training as a psychologist and as a student in my final year of human nutrition has made me value transdisciplinarity, and I have been able to see that the tools of a professional are sometimes not enough when faced with a medical emergency situation. In the particular case of paediatric care, it requires even more, elements from other areas, because children are learning to build the world, to establish rules, limits, habits and behaviours, so it is necessary that the care they receive is appropriate to their age and social context in order to understand them and provide them with better care.

One obstacle that I have detected over the years is that medical care is reduced to the resolution of an immediate problem, and health professionals rarely have the opportunity to give the patient the continuity that he or she deserves. It seems to me that this is due to the fact that the number of health professionals has been reduced in contrast to the number of people in the population, and emergency services have been reduced and are now overstretched.

This has resulted in even less and more concrete care during medical emergencies, as the possibility of follow-up and the inclusion of professionals who require more time to attend to the patient are excluded.

In addition to this, there is an invisible hierarchy that places the medical approach above many other training areas such as nursing, nutrition, psychology, to name a few, and thus results in more limited paediatric care services.

The above elements are important in normal situations, but in emergency situations they become crucial. When a person requires immediate attention, the focus is mostly medical and leaves aside other perspectives that may have been part of the aetiology of the problem and that should be part of the healing and reconstruction of the individual.

Another important aspect that has a direct impact on the increase of emergency medical events has to do with two elements: the health care system and the economic niche in which a person grows up. If economic possibilities are reduced and the health system does not provide universal coverage, people will have less access, which in turn causes health to be more affected and people’s pockets to be depleted, thus creating a cycle that is difficult to break.

For all of the above reasons, I believe that the training of health professionals should be rich in elements from other disciplines that allow the tools to be not only of a physical nature, but also to be able to listen to the patient, empathise with the situation and provide care that takes into account aspects that transcend the barriers of current care.

As far as training for emergency situations is concerned, it seems clear to me that educational institutions still lack programmes that analyse in depth the care of patients in emergency situations, and even more so, paediatric patients.

In addition, if we health professionals had a broader vision, we would probably value more the work of other disciplines and be able to communicate better in order to provide a kinder and more sympathetic treatment to the patient.

Finally, something that I see as an excellent opportunity is academic training in different places. I believe that health is such a complex phenomenon and that we still have so much to discover, that combining methods, techniques, tools, practices and customs would allow us to better understand each other, which in turn would allow us to have a wider repertoire of techniques and tools to improve individual and community health.

If we could improve the health of children and young people living in emergency situations in highly vulnerable contexts, and that improvement could be translated into a continuum of care in key areas such as physical, psychological and social health, we could effect a global paradigm shift, because not only would we give them the opportunity for a better life, but they would learn that the best way to improve the world is to try to build better opportunities for generations to come.

In conclusion, I would like to emphasise that there is an urgent need to make some modifications in favour of care in emergency situations. In principle, it is important to modify the educational curriculum so that it includes the basic steps for paediatric care in emergencies, and that they also have the vocabulary and the corresponding techniques to be able to communicate with different health professionals. It seems to me that this would provide the student with a more complete training, the community would have more confidence in health professionals and the health systems would benefit from having more qualified personnel with a broader training.

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