Half the world lacks access to essential health services

We need a fundamental shift in the way we mobilise resources for health and human capital

We need a fundamental shift in the way we mobilise resources for health and human capital

South Africans are unlikely to face crippling healthcare bills and have fairly good access to services, suggesting the country is well on the path to providing universal health coverage, according to a report by the World Bank and the World Health Organisation.

Abe made the announcement alongside U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and world leaders attending the Universal Health Coverage Forum, which was organized by the Japanese government and global organizations including the World Bank and World Health Organization.

"Out-of-pocket spending on health causes an estimated 100 million people to fall below the poverty line every year, and in an increasingly interconnected world, an evolving global health landscape gives rise to new threats", Guterres said.

According to the report, 800 million people spend at least ten per cent of their household budgets on health expenses. 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 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 Jim Yong Kim. In addition, fewer people are now being tipped into extreme poverty than at the turn of the century. In those countries, the percentage of the population spending more than 10% of household income on health expenses is 4.77% and 17.3%, respectively.

In the Eastern Mediterranean Region, the report explained, around 40 per cent of health expenditure comes directly from people's pockets while a majority of them can not afford it. The report's findings on SA challenge the Department of Health's rhetoric on National Health Insurance, an ambitious set of health reforms that it says are meant to provide universal health coverage.

The dispatch says global health is not just an end but a precondition to making progress in the economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development and urged all Member States to respect, protect and promote the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. The report uses 16 essential health services as indicators of the level and equity of coverage in countries.

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