WHO: Uneven access to health services drives life expectancy gaps

5 April, 2019

Extracts from a WHO press release and a comment from me below. Full text here: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/04-04-2019-uneven-access-to-health-...

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- Where women can access health services, maternal deaths decrease, lengthening women’s life expectancy.

- In many circumstances, men access health care less than women.

- Men are much more likely to die from preventable and treatable noncommunicable diseases and road traffic accidents.

- 18.1-year gap in life expectancy between poorest and richest countries...

Attitudes to healthcare differ. Where men and women face the same disease, men often seek health care less than women. In countries with generalized HIV epidemics, for example, men are less likely than women to take an HIV test, less likely to access antiretroviral therapy and more likely to die of AIDS-related illnesses than women. Similarly, male TB patients appear to be less likely to seek care than female TB patients...

“One of WHO’s triple billion goals is for 1 billion more people to have universal health coverage by 2023,” said Dr. Tedros. “This means improving access to services, especially at community level, and making sure those services are accessible, affordable, and effective for everyone – regardless of their gender.”...

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The press release refers to the new publication: World Health Statistics 2019

https://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/311696/WHO-DAD-2019.1-e...

'Recent years have seen improvements in 24 (56%) of the 43 health-related SDG indicators tracked in World health statistics 2019 (Table O.3). However, at a global level, progress has stalled or trends are in the wrong direction, for five of those 43 indicators: road traffic mortality, children overweight, malaria incidence, alcohol consumption, water.'

Comment (NPW): The statistics tell us a lot about medical causes of death, but little about the quality of home-based and facility-based health care. It is evident that tens of thousands of people are dying from a range of common diseases every day, simply because they did not receive timely life-saving interventions. These interventions are often locally available but are simply not provided due to indecision, delays, misdiagnosis, and incorrect treatment. Many would still be alive today if those responsible for their care had access to basic healthcare information.

Behind me on the HIFA office wall is the poster presented a few months ago by HIFA Steering Group member Geoff Royston, which argues for access to essential healthcare inforamtion to be included as an indicator of progress towwards universal health coverage:

http://www.hifa.org/news/hifa-presentation-health-systems-research-sympo...

My thanks to Geoff and to Chris Zielinski for their voluntary inputs to date, including representation at IAEG (Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators) meetings. We continue to seek support from senior staff at WHO to take this forward.

Best wishes, Neil

Let's build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare information - Join HIFA: www.hifa.org

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - www.hifa.org ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: facebook.com/HIFAdotORG neil@hifa.org