Patient Solidarity Day: Healthcare is a Human Right
By 2030 the world should achieve universal health coverage (UHC). In plain English UHC means that financial risk protection, access to quality essential healthcare services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines will be provided to every single person on the Earth.
Universal health coverage was decided as a global goal by the 194 UN Member States in September 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Today, 3rd of December, at the Patient Solidarity Day, it is important to put this goal in the spotlight and remind ourselves that no one should be left behind.
Yes, “Leave no one behind” is also the theme of the Patient Solidarity Day this year. As a member of the International Alliance of Patients’ Organizations and an organization aiming to empower patients all around the world, FindMeCure is more than committed to the believe that access to healthcare is a basic human right. Therefore, the future of healthcare must be patient-centered and solutions should evolve partly from those the solutions are meant for. This requires everyone working together in harmony.
Before getting to this future, though, the key players – patients, activists, NGOs, governments, healthcare providers and pharma companies, need to become aware of the numerous challenges lying ahead.
- Patients need functioning health facilities within reasonable proximity of their homes and livelihoods
If there is no convenient place to receive healthcare, patients are less able to access the medicines they need. In many countries, existing physical healthcare infrastructure is insufficient to reach much of the population with medicines and services.
Approximately 70% of the world’s poor live in rural areas. When healthcare is far away or transportation systems are inadequate, lack of access results in negative health outcomes. This barrier is particularly acute for diseases requiring specialized care such as cancer.
For example, Ethiopia, a country of some 90 million people, is served by a single radiation treatment center located in the capital of Addis Ababa.
- Supply Chains. Patients should be able to fill prescriptions for quality medicines without experiencing delays or interruptions in their treatment.
If medicines cannot reach remote areas, patients are less able to access them. A 2009 survey of 36 countries found that 15 common generic medicines listed on the WHO Essential Medicines List are frequently unavailable in either the public or private sectors, with regional availability ranging from 29% in Africa to 54% in the Americas.
- Trained Healthcare Workers. Patients should be treated by well-trained doctors, nurses and healthcare workers, without unreasonable delay
A 2013 WHO report found a shortfall of more than seven million healthcare workers worldwide, and projected that number to rise to 13 million by 2035. More than 80 countries currently fail to meet the basic threshold of 23 skilled health professionals per 10,000 people.
- Healthcare Financing. Patients should be able to obtain the care and medicines they need without experiencing catastrophic financial losses
For the last decade, India’s investment in health as a percentage of its GDP has averaged around 4%, despite its large domestic generic drug industry. There are also low levels of spending on health in ASEAN, with most countries in the region allocating less than 5% of GDP as expenditure on health in 2012.
- Patient Education. Patients should be informed about their conditions and empowered to make educated decisions about their treatment care
Approximately 50% of patients do not take their medications as prescribed, due to low health literacy and lack of involvement in the treatment decision-making process.
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