Half of world’s ru­ral pop­u­la­tion can­not ac­cess ba­sic health care: UN

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

More than half the pop­u­la­tion of ru­ral ar­eas world­wide do not have ac­cess to ba­sic health care, with four in five ru­ral Africans lack­ing ser­vices, the United Na­tions said Mon­day.

In the first re­port of its kind, the U.N.’s In­ter­na­tional Labour Or­ga­ni­za­tion found that the ru­ralur­ban divide was om­nipresent from the rich­est coun­tries down to the poor­est.

Fifty-six per­cent of those living in ru­ral ar­eas world­wide were not cov­ered by ba­sic health care against 22 per­cent in cities and towns, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, with data from 174 coun­tries.

“The re­sults that we found are re­ally shock­ing. We find that the ru­ral-ur­ban divide is a con­sis­tent fea­ture at global, re­gional and na­tional lev­els,” the re­port’s au­thor Xelia Scheil-Ad­lung, told a news con­fer­ence.

“The place of res­i­dence can be con­sid­ered as the en­try door to ac­cess to health care or as the key bar­rier to be ex­cluded from health care,” she said.

An over­whelm­ing 83 per­cent of Africans in ru­ral ar­eas were left un­cov­ered, the re­port said.

“The sit­u­a­tion is wors­ened by the lack of health work­ers in the world’s ru­ral ar­eas,” the re­port said, adding that although half of the world’s pop­u­la­tion lived in th­ese ar­eas, only 23 per­cent of the global health work­force was de­ployed there.

An ex­tra 7 mil­lion health work­ers were needed to make up for the short­fall in ru­ral ar­eas across the world, the re­port on in­iq­ui­ties in ru­ral health pro­tec­tion said.

Scheil- Ad­lung, who is ILO’s health pol­icy co­or­di­na­tor, said the coun­tries with the high­est ru­ralur­ban divide in Europe were Italy, fol­lowed by Greece, An­dorra and Cyprus.

The low­est gap was in Monaco, a tiny prin­ci­pal­ity in south­ern France which is a tax haven for the world’s rich and fa­mous, fol­lowed by Switzer­land, she said.

The big­gest divide glob­ally was found in East Ti­mor.

In the im­pov­er­ished half-is­land na­tion that was oc­cu­pied by In­done­sia for over two decades, 75 per­cent of the ru­ral pop­u­la­tion re­mains out­side the purview of med­i­cal care, against 18 per­cent in cities.

The main rea­sons for this were un­der­fund­ing, neg­li­gence and in­vest­ments in “pres­tige” projects in ur­ban ar­eas, said Scheil-Ad­lung.

She said this could be rec­ti­fied with steps to en­sure com­pre­hen­sive na­tional pro­tec­tion, mov­ing away from depend­ing on char­i­ties to meet the short­fall and re­vamp­ing poli­cies and bud­gets.

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