Chapter 11: Improving global health
Health disparities and vast differences in access to health care are among the great challenges of our times. Aligning health-oriented companies (pharmaceutical firms), health policy, hospitals and clinics, and various NGOs working directly with disenfranchised populations can begin to create greater equity in health and health care. The 1978 Declaration of Alma-Ata, the first international declaration of its kind, proclaimed primary health care a “fundamental human right” and the attainment of the highest possible level of health “a most important world-wide social goal.” It has since been widely accepted that the promotion of health is essential to sustaining economic and social development as well as to contributing to world peace. And yet, despite progress in nations such as Brazil, Chile, China, Mexico, Rwanda, and Thailand, the world is not yet positioned to ensure the level of health care access that the signatories of the 1978 Declaration envisioned. According to the WHO’s 2010 World Health Report, citing the International Labour Organization, only one in five people in the world has social security protection broad enough to cover for lost wages in the event of illness, while more than half of the world’s population lacks formal social protection. In sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, the coverage rate is as low as 5–10 percent. In middle- income countries, between 20 percent and 60 percent are covered. Faced with rising costs and demographic changes, high-income countries cannot be complacent. Germany, for example, has recognized that it can no longer rely solely on traditional sources of wage-based insurance contributions with its aging population
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