WHO reports 4.5B lacks basic health coverage


Anjali Sharma

GG News Bureau

UNITED NATIONS, 19th Sept.World Health agency on Monday said that over 4.5 billion people worldwide lack coverage for essential health services, underscoring the need for stronger political commitment and increased government investment.

According to a joint WHO and World Bank report two billion face severe financial hardships when paying out-of-pocket for necessary medical treatment.

WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said “The fact that so many people cannot benefit from affordable, quality, essential health services not only puts their own health at risk, it also puts the stability of communities, societies and economies at risk.”

“We urgently need stronger political will, more aggressive investments in health, and a decisive shift to transform health systems based on primary health care.”

The report said that the health care crisis poses a major threat to global health-related Sustainable Development Goals to achieve universal health coverage for all by 2030.

According to the report fewer than one-third of countries globally have improved health service coverage and reduced the “catastrophic” levels of out-of-pocket health spending, which often exceed 25 per cent of household income.

It stressed that to get back on track toward the ambitious goals, the report called for substantial investments in the public sector by governments and development partners.

It emphasized the need for a “radical reorientation” of health systems, prioritizing primary healthcare, enhancing equity and financial protection.

The report said that reform is vital to fully address the devastating impact of COVID-19 on health systems and the global healthcare workforce, while also bracing against the challenges posed by economic downturn.

The other factors include the consequences of climate change and shifting political priorities, the report stated.

Mamta Murthi, Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank said that “We know that achieving universal health coverage is a critical step in helping people escape and stay out of poverty, yet there continues to be increased financial hardship, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable people.”

“This report paints a dire picture, but also offers evidence on ways to prioritize health in government budgets and strengthen health systems for greater equity in both the delivery of essential quality health services and financial protection,” she added.

It was issued ahead of a UNGA high level session where world leaders are expected to renew their pledge to act and make universal health coverage a reality for all.

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