A new World Bank report says that people in developing countries, such as those in 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 per cent of GDP (gross domestic product) and generates millions of jobs, many of them for women,” the World Bank said.
Taro Aso, Japan’s Finance Minister, said: “UHC is not just about better health, it is fundamental to inclusive growth.