A report released by the World Health Organisation and the World Bank has shown that at least half of the world’s population cannot obtain essential health services. The document — Tracking Universal Health Coverage: 2017 Global Monitoring Report — shows that currently, 800 million people spend at least 10 per cent of their household budget on health expenses for themselves, a sick child or another family member. For almost 100 million people, these expenses are high enough to push them into extreme poverty, forcing them to survive on just $1.90 or less a day. The findings have been published in Lancet Global Health.
In India an estimated 100 crore people have no health cover. Data from the National Health Profile, released in April, show that only 27 per cent Indians have health cover. India has a population of about 135 crore
“It is completely unacceptable that half the world still lacks coverage for the most essential health services. 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,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO.
The report, however, 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 anti-retroviral 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. WHO’s definition of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) includes financial risk protection, access to quality essential health care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
“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…” said World Bank Group President Dr. Jim Yong Kim.