Most rural communities have a large proportion of elderly people and children, with relatively few people of working age (20-50 years), which results in a higher dependency ratio. People living in rural areas typically have less access to healthcare. They have fewer specialized health care services such as dentists, social workers and even physicians. Many communities may only have one permanent nurse, with other specialty professions rotating through for periodic check-ups. There has been an increased effort to attract health professionals to rural communities, such as by improving financial incentives for rural practice and increasing the number of admissions of medical students from rural areas.
The lack of healthcare workers results in alternative ways of delivering health care, including telephone medical consultations, travel grants and mobile preventative and treatment programs. Some of the challenges people may face include not being able to get to a hospital quickly in an emergency, or having to travel long distances to get routine checkups and screenings.
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