Mon, Jun 15, 2015 - Page 13 News List

About 400 million still lack access to key healthcare services: World Bank

AFP, WASHINGTON

About 400 million people worldwide lack access to essential health services and the cost of healthcare is forcing many into poverty, the World Bank and WHO reported on Friday.

A new report by the bank and WHO on tracking universal healthcare coverage said that, globally, more people than ever — 80 percent — have access to key health services.

Universal healthcare, the two institutions say, encompasses services that should reach everyone regardless of socioeconomic level: family planning, antenatal care, skilled support when giving birth, child immunization, tuberculosis treatment, HIV antiretroviral therapy, improved water sources and improved sanitary facilities.

However, hundreds of millions of people are reached by just a few of those services, the report found.

In addition, in low and middle-income countries, 6 percent of residents were at risk of being forced into or pushed further into poverty by healthcare costs.

The report, which examined surveys from 37 nations conducted between 2002 and 2012, is the first to track progress toward universal health coverage.

“This report is a wakeup call: It shows that we are a long way from achieving universal health coverage,” said Tim Evans, senior director of health, nutrition and population at the World Bank.

“We must expand access to health and protect the poorest from health expenses that are causing them severe financial hardship,” he said.

For some kinds of services, much more than 80 percent of people have access, the report said.

The impoverishing impact of catastrophic health expenses has diminished over the past decade, it added.

“However, there is still a long way to go on the road to universal healthcare, both in terms of health service and financial protection coverage,” the report said.

The new report seeks to define universal healthcare in terms of measurable essential services to be able to assess how governments and communities are performing.

The goal of universal coverage, which would mean that all citizens would have access to health services without experiencing financial hardship to pay for them, is likely to be included in the UN’s upcoming Sustainable Development Goals.

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