People want dignity, people want rights
In the global survey World We Want 2015, health was the first priority of people living in poor countries. This was not surprising. Every year in Africa, nearly a quarter of a million children under five die because their parents cannot afford to pay for treatment. According to the World Health Organization, 150 million people face catastrophic health care costs every year, while 100 million are pushed into poverty because of direct payments. Increasingly, poor people are protesting the denial of their basic right to access health care when they need it.
The ongoing global initiative to expand universal health coverage (UHC), especially in low- and middle-income countries, is heartening, as is positioning UHC as a focus of the post-2015 development agenda. Most of us hope that UHC will make a real improvement in health status, in addition to expanding population coverage of health services.
In recent days, the media in Ghana have been abuzz with news about the government’s decision to scale up the capitation system as another method for paying health care providers under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS). The Upper West, East and Volta regions of the country are included in the second phase of the capitation scale-up, which was piloted in the Ashanti Region, where the majority of affiliates and providers are reported to have expressed satisfaction with this system.
Two days before the world observes International School Meals Day, I’m here sitting in the U.K. Houses of Parliament thinking about the unexpected evolution of school meals programs in recent years.
Photo courtesty Creative Commons
For those of us who have been impacted by the death of loved ones due to the negative health consequences of smoking, the recent announcement by Larry Merlo, the CEO of the U.S. pharmacy chain CVS, to stop selling tobacco products in the chain’s 7,600 stores, was a ray of hope and a step toward a future when public health concerns trump short-term profit motives.
Countries working to provide quality health care often face bottlenecks in keeping remote health clinics stocked with essential medicines. This isn’t necessarily because they can’t afford sufficient drugs and supplies. Delivery may be stymied by bad roads and poor communications systems. Or the distribution process may have been established for a centralized system and can no longer keep pace with the growth in clinics in faraway settlements.
“In this clinic we are accommodated well and treated respectfully… We have the opportunity to converse with the health worker, describing the illness, and when we are mistaken or do not understand, we are not threatened. They help us locate the pain and they explain everything about the disease and how to treat it. They encourage us to speak and they try to give us confidence.” –Patient in Burkina Faso
On this year’s World AIDS Day – 1 December 2013 –the world commemorates remarkable scientific progress against AIDS and the translation of this progress into saving lives: In the last decade, new HIV infections, AIDS deaths and TB-related deaths among people with AIDS have declined by one- third.