100 million people in extreme poverty due to health costs

By June Shannon Policy News   |   5th Apr 2019

On World Health Day 2019 the World Health Organization (WHO) calls for #HealthforAll

Approximately 100 million people worldwide are pushed into extreme poverty every year because they have to pay for health care, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Sunday, April 7th  is World Health Day, which the WHO has described as, “a chance to celebrate health and remind world leaders that everyone should be able to access the health care they need, when and where they need it.”

While progress has been made in some countries, millions of people worldwide still have no access to health care and millions more are forced to choose between health care and other expenses such as food, clothing and even a home.

The theme for World Health Day 2019 is, “Health for all- everyone, everywhere” and it aims to highlight the WHO’s number one goal of universal health coverage.

According to the WHO, “universal health coverage means that all people have access to the quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. We believe this is possible and it starts with strong primary health care. Primary health care is a whole-of-society approach to health and wellbeing centred on the needs and preferences of individuals, families and communities.”

“Our system is regrettably unique - a tax-based system that fails to provide universal access and which has always had significant user charges,"

Kathryn Reilly, Policy Manager , Irish Heart Foundation

“To make health for all a reality, governments need to invest in quality, accessible primary health care. Health workers need to care and advocate for patients and educate them on how to get and stay healthy. Individuals and communities need to be empowered to take care of their own health. Health is a human right. Together, we can make health for all a reality,” the WHO added.

Commenting Kathryn Reilly, Policy Manager, The Irish Heart Foundation said, that the main problem with the Irish health system currently was, that unlike the majority of Europe, Ireland never developed universal access to health services.

“Our system is regrettably unique – a tax-based system that fails to provide universal access and which has always had significant user charges. The goal of a universal system is that all people can obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them, providing care at a cost affordable to the individual and to the nation.”

“As a patient organisation our interest is in the outcome and experience of patients using the health and social care system. Many patients with cardiovascular disease use medical, rehabilitation and social care services concurrently. Currently, different cost structures for different elements of care lead to complicated patterns of use and unintended interactions between different elements of the system, for example between primary and hospital care,” Kathryn stated.

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costs of healthcare poverty universal health care WHO World Health Day 2019 World Health Organisation

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