According to the UN health agency, “countries are spending more on health, but people are still paying too much out of their own pockets”.
The agency’s new report on global health expenditure launched on Wednesday reveals that “spending on health is outpacing the rest of the global economy, accounting for 10 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP).
The trend is particularly noticeable in low- and middle-income countries where health spending is growing on average six per cent annually compared with four per cent in high-income countries.
Health spending is made up of government expenditure, out-of-pocket payments and other sources, such as voluntary health insurance and employer-provided health programmes.
While reliance on out-of-pocket expenses is slowly declining around the world, the report notes that in low- and middle-income countries, domestic public funding for health is increasing and external funding in middle-income countries, declining.
Highlighting the importance of increasing domestic spending for achieving universal health coverage and the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s Director-General, said that this should be seen as “an investment in poverty reduction, jobs, productivity, inclusive economic growth, and healthier, safer, fairer societies.”
Worldwide, governments provide an average of 51 per cent of a country’s health spending, while more than 35 per cent of health spending per country comes from out-of-pocket expenses. One consequence of this is 100 million people pushed into extreme poverty each year, the report stresses.