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‘3.8b people lack access to essential medical services’


No fewer than 3.8 billion people worldwide lack access to essential health services.

According to a new report released yesterday by the World Bank and the World Health Organisation (WHO), each year, large number of households are being pushed into poverty because they must pay for healthcare service out of their own pocket, and currently, 800 million people spend at least 10 per cent of their household budgets on health expenses for themselves, a sick child or other family member.

According to the report titled, “Tracking Universal Health Coverage: 2017 Global Monitoring Report,” for almost 100 million people, these expenses are high enough to push them into extreme poverty, forcing them to survive on just $1.90 (N684.95) or less a day.

The World Bank/WHO Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Global Monitoring report, issued regularly, was published in the journal, Lancet Global Health and the WHO bulletin and website.

The report measures the proportion of a population that can access essential quality health services, and the proportion of the population that spends a large amount of household income on health. It also evaluates the overall level and the extent to which UHC is equitable – offering service coverage and financial protection to all people within a population, such as the poor or those living in remote rural areas.

It also uses 16 essential health services as indicators of the level and equity of coverage in countries.

Director-General of WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said: “It is completely unacceptable that half the world still lacks coverage for the most essential health services.

Also, World Bank Group President, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, said: “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.

Meanwhile, according to the report, there are wide gaps in the availability of services in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.

In other regions, basic health care services such as family planning and infant immunisation are becoming more available, but lack of financial protection means increasing financial distress for families as they pay for these services out of their own pockets.

This is even a challenge in more affluent regions such as Eastern Asia, Latin America and Europe, where a growing number of people are spending at least 10 per cent of their household budgets on out-of-pocket health expenses.

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