Sat | Jul 20, 2019

Caribbean nationals spend ‘excessive out-of-pocket’ sums to access health care – World Bank report

Published:Monday | July 1, 2019 | 11:23 AM

TOKYO, CMC – A new World Bank report says that people in developing countries, including the Caribbean, spend half a trillion dollars annually – over US$80 per person – out of their own pockets to access health services.

The report, which was launched ahead of the G20 Summit in Japan, says such expenses “hit the poor the hardest.”

It says that lack of universal access to quality, affordable health services threatens decades-long progress on health, endangers countries’ long-term economic prospects, and makes them more vulnerable to pandemic risks. 

The World Bank said financing universal health coverage (UHC) in developing countries is “a priority for the G20 Presidency of Japan.”

The Washington-based financial institution said the report informed a first-ever G20 Finance and Health Ministers joint session hosted by Japan on Friday in Osaka, after being discussed by G20 Finance Ministers earlier this month. 

“Globally, health is an important economic sector that accounts for 11 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) and generates millions of jobs, many of them for women,” the World Bank said.

The report, “High-Performance Health Financing for Universal Health Coverage,” projects that by 2030, the target date of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there will be a US$176 billion gap in the 54 poorest countries between the financing needed to provide their populations with quality, affordable health services and funding that is actually available. 

“Without urgent action, developing countries faced with ageing populations and growing burdens of non-communicable diseases will find themselves increasingly challenged to close the gap between the demand for health spending and available public resources, and will prolong the reliance on out-of-pocket spending by patients and their families,” the World Bank said. 

“Health is an essential human capital investment that countries must make for their people to succeed at school and at work,” said Kristalina Georgieva, chief executive officer of the World Bank. “We must act urgently to fix the insufficient, inefficient, and inequitable financing of health that is holding back people and countries.” 

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