One hundred million people worldwide are pushed into extreme poverty because their out-of-pocket expenses for sick family members are too high, said the World Health Organization and the World Bank in a report.
Many of these people are forced to live on USD2.00 or less daily, in addition to the high cost of healthcare, the report further noted.
Half of the world’s population cannot access essential health services and wide gaps of service availability exist in areas in sub-Saharan and Southeast Asia.
Eight hundred million people spend 10 percent of their household budgets for their health needs or of that of sick family member, which affects even affluent nations in Eastern Asia, Latin America and Europe.
“Inequalities in health services are seen not just between, but also within countries. National averages can mask low levels of health service coverage in disadvantaged population groups,” according to the UN health agency.
However, the report also found improvement in some areas of health access. There has been an increase in the number of people able to access specific health service, such as immunization, family planning and malaria treatment.
Still, progress is uneven. Lack of financial support forces people to spend out of their pockets to pay for healthcare costs, noted the report.
“It is completely unacceptable that half of the world's population still lacks coverage for the most essential health services... a solution exists. Universal health coverage allows everyone to obtain the health services they need, when and where they need them, without facing financial hardship,” said WHO Director General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus.
World Bank Group President Dr Jim Yong Kim said that there must be a fundamental shift in the way of mobilizing resources for health and human capital.
“The report makes clear that if we are serious - not just about better health outcomes, but also about ending poverty - we must urgently scale up our efforts on universal health coverage,” Dr Kim said.
The report was presented during the Universal Health Coverage Forum 2017 that was held in Tokyo, Japan, and attended by representatives of UNICEF, World Bank, WHO and the Government of Japan. MIMS