In addition, two billion people face serious financial difficulties when they have to pay for necessary medical treatment themselves, according to a joint report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank.
“The fact that so many people are unable to benefit from essential and affordable health services endangers not only their own health, but also the stability of communities, societies and economies,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
“We urgently need stronger political will, more aggressive investments in health and decisive changes to transform health systems based on primary health care,” he added.
Invest massively in public services
This crisis poses a major threat to the health-related Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to achieve universal health coverage for all by 2030.
According to the report, in the last two decades, less than a third of countries have improved health service coverage and reduced “catastrophic” levels of out-of-pocket health spending, which often exceeds 25% of household income.
To get these ambitious projects back on track, the report urges governments and development partners to invest massively in the public sector.
It highlights the need for a “radical reorientation” of health systems, prioritizing primary health care, strengthening equity and financial protection.
Reform is also essential to fully address the devastating impact of COVID-19 on health systems and the global health workforce, while preparing for the challenges posed by the economic downturn, the report said.
Other factors include the consequences of climate change and changing political priorities.
Help patients escape poverty
“We know that achieving universal health coverage is a crucial step in helping people escape poverty, but financial hardship continues to deepen, particularly for the poorest and most vulnerable people,” said Mamta Murthi, Vice President of Human Development at World Health Organization. Bank.
“This report presents a bleak picture, but also offers evidence on ways to prioritize health in government budgets and strengthen health systems to achieve greater equity in the delivery of quality essential services, as well as the financial protection of patients,” he added.
The report was released ahead of a high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, scheduled for Thursday, where world leaders are expected to renew their commitment to act and make universal health coverage a reality for all.