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Universal health coverage within reach for developing countries

Aug 27, 2013 | News

(27 August 2013) – Once seen as a distant objective, economic growth and political will are now bringing universal health coverage within reach for the developing world. Developing countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa are quickly catching up with European healthcare standards, although it will take nearly half a century before all can provide comparable treatments.

In just a few years Rwanda, Thailand, Ghana and Turkey have led the way and established national programmes, ensuring access to extended healthcare coverage – while minimising costs – so protecting the most vulnerable among their populations from falling into extreme poverty. According to a report by the African Development Bank Group, a majority of African countries will be in a position to ensure at least minimal health coverage for their populations, if not full coverage, by 2060.

Besides treatments for HIV, tuberculosis and malaria, one increasing aim is ensuring the provision of care for “non-transmissible” diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cancer or respiratory problems. According to the African Development Bank, these illnesses will represent 46% of the causes of death in the next ten years.

Progress will depend on governments and the budgets they decide to invest, however, as taxes cannot yet finance healthcare systems. In Rwanda, such taxes are set at €2.40 per person per year. But, according to World Health Organization (WHO) experts, a minimum amount of €44 per person per capita will be required to ensure treatment during the main epidemics as well as prevention against “non-transmissible” diseases. (With EurActiv)

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