Lack of universal health coverage pushed people into extreme poverty in 37 countries
Even as the concept of universal health coverage gains ground, around 400 million people still do not have access to essential health services, says a report published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank Group.
Six per cent of the population across 37 countries entered or was pushed further into extreme poverty (earning $1.25/day) because they had to pay for health services out of their own pockets. When the study factored in a poverty measure of $2/day, 17 per cent of people in these countries were impoverished, or further impoverished, by health expenses.
“These high levels of impoverishment, which happen when poor people have to pay out of pocket for their own emergency health care, pose a major threat to the goal of eliminating extreme poverty,” says Kaushik Basu, senior vice president and chief economist at the World Bank Group. “As we transition to a post-2015 development era, we must act on these findings, or the world’s poor risk being left behind.”
World Bank Group Senior Director Tim Evans says, "This report is a wake-up call. It shows that we are a long way from achieving universal health coverage. We must expand access to health and protect the poorest from health expenses that are causing them severe financial hardship."
The report—Tracking Universal Health Coverage—is the first of its kind to measure health service coverage and financial protection to assess countries’ progress towards universal health coverage.
The report looked at global access to essential health services—including family planning, antenatal care, skilled birth attendance, child immunisation, antiretroviral therapy, tuberculosis treatment, and access to clean water and sanitation—in 2013.
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