Tags: World Bank | Universal | Health Coverage | Poverty

World Bank President Kim: Universal Health Coverage Can End Poverty

Tuesday, 21 May 2013 09:39 AM

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said universal health insurance coverage in all countries can help achieve a goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.

“Every country in the world can improve the performance of its health system in the three dimensions of universal coverage: access, quality and affordability,” Kim said in a speech in Geneva at the World Health Assembly, the annual meeting of the World Health Organization’s top decision-making group. “In all cases, countries need to tie their plans to tough, relevant metrics. All of us together must prevent ‘universal coverage’ from ending up as a toothless slogan.”

Kim, a physician by training who took over the institution in July, set a target last month to cut extreme poverty — defined as living on less than $1.25 a day — to less than 3 percent by 2030 from 21 percent in 2010.

Health spending forces about 100 million people into extreme poverty every year and inflicts severe financial hardship on a further 150 million, Kim said today. He gave Turkey and Thailand as examples of countries that have expanded health insurance coverage, reducing infant mortality rates and the numbers of people suffering catastrophic health costs.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution last year on affordable universal health care, urging countries to develop financing systems that “avoid significant direct payments at the point of delivery.” Eliminating point-of-service fees will be critical to improving access to health care for the world’s poor, Kim said.

“Anyone who has provided health care to poor people knows that even tiny out-of-pocket charges can drastically reduce their use of needed services,” he said. “This is both unjust and unnecessary.”

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World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said universal health insurance coverage in all countries can help achieve a goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030.
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Tuesday, 21 May 2013 09:39 AM
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