At least half of the world’s population cannot obtain essential health services, according to a new report from the World Bank and World Health Organisation (WHO). And each year, large numbers of households are being pushed into poverty because they must pay for health care out of their own pockets.
Currently, 800 million people spend at least 10% of their household budgets on health expenses for themselves, a sick child or other family member. For almost 100 million people these expenses are high enough to push them into extreme poverty, forcing them to survive on just US$1.90 or less a day.
"It is completely unacceptable that half the world still lacks coverage for the most essential health services," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. "And it is unnecessary. A solution exists: universal health coverage (UHC) allows everyone to obtain the health services they need, when and where they need them, without facing financial hardship."
There is some good news: The report shows that the 21st century has seen an increase in the number of people able to obtain some key health services, such as immunisation and family planning, as well as antiretroviral treatment for HIV and insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria. In addition, fewer people are now being tipped into extreme poverty than at the turn of the century.