WHO report on expensive healthcare

WHO report on expensive healthcare

According to a new report prepared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Bank at least half the world'a population does not have access to basic and essential health services. It is known that access to health services and poverty are in a vicious circle and the report confirms it again with a study of the health budgets of individuals and families all over the world. While large numbers of people cannot afford health services, out of pocket expenses related it are pushing millions into poverty every year. This is particularly true in poor and developing countries where heath facilities are inadequate and people cannot afford even whatever is available. Some 800 million people spend more than 10 % of their household budget on healthcare and about 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty because of out of pocket health expenses.    When absolute income is very low even 10 % has a major negative impact on the budget.  

The 10 % figure is conservative and in many cases it is much more than that. Asia and Africa have the highest rates of people with out of pocket expenditures exceeding 10 or 25 % of total household income. The report also says that outpatient medicines are a major driver of ''catastrophic health spending''. The situation is particularly bad in India which accounts for half of the 100 million people who go below the poverty line every year. Economic growth and the claimed increase in individual and family incomes do not benefit people when a high share of the income is used for meeting health expenses. The expenditure is not preventive but is made for treatment of diseases. There is no access for the poor to even basic medical care. The medical journal Lancet had two years ago put India at the 154th position among 195 countries in terms of access to health care. India's per capita health expenditure is lower than that of many poor countries. 
Health care expenses are rising every year. Private health services are not affordable for the poor as they are highly commercialised. Public health care system is inefficient. It is understaffed, lacks in facilities and is prone to corruption. But the only way to meet the health requirements of the majority of people is to strengthen the public health care system. Health insurance coverage is very inadequate and it should be expanded to cover the entire population. Many people, even those from the middle class, find even the insurance premium difficult to afford. There may also be a case for regulating the high prices at private hospitals.  

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