GENEVA, Switzerland (CMC) — A new World Health Organisation (WHO) report reveals the dangers of poor health care in all member states, including the Caribbean.
On Thursday, the WHO said that ineffective health care is “a global phenomenon, which increases the burden of illness and wastes scarce resources.”
In the new report on the subject, WHO and partners cited problems with delivering quality health care across all member states.
The World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) collaborated on the report.
“The finding is important because, although nations have committed to providing universal health coverage by 2030, the outcome would still be poor without the delivery of effective care,” said WHO in a statement.
“Inaccurate diagnosis, medication errors, inappropriate or unnecessary treatment, inadequate or unsafe clinical facilities or practices — or providers who lack adequate training and expertise — prevail in all countries,” added the UN agency.
The report says the challenge is greatest in low- and middle-income countries, such as those in the Caribbean, where 10 per cent of hospital patients acquire an infection during the course of their stay, compared to 7 per cent elsewhere.
In some poorer nations, moreover, the report says clinical guidelines are followed in less than 50 per cent of cases, resulting in “low-quality antenatal and childcare”, as well as “deficient” family planning.
The report says inadequate clinical practice was also “common” in private and public clinics in several low- and middle-income countries, with some demonstrating diagnostic accuracy as low as 34 per cent.
The report says ensuring quality health care for everyone is essential, “primarily because it prevents suffering but also since it helps to boost economic productivity.”
Furthermore, the report says failing to treat sick people results in increased financial pressure on families and health systems, “which amounts to trillions of dollars each year.”
Underscoring the fact that the problem crosses all economic boundaries, the report finds that richer countries had problems too, with breast-screening rates as low as 19 per cent and influenza vaccination rates below 30 per cent, in 35 nations.
Findings from high-income countries also indicated that one in 10 patients is harmed during medical treatment, and that around 15 per cent of hospital expenditure can be put down to mistakes in care or having to treat patient infection.
Despite the challenges, the report noted some progress in improving the quality of care, for example in survival rates for cancer and cardiovascular disease.
In an appeal to Caribbean and other Governments to promote stronger national health-care quality policies, the authors of the report emphasised their rejection of the perception that quality health care is a “luxury that only rich countries can afford”.
Noting that technological innovation already “plays a key role” in offering ways to expand high-quality health-care services rapidly and affordably, the report also finds that “many” low- and middle-income countries have developed successful strategies to improve the quality of health coverage.
But the report says that all that is missing is “a global platform to share this knowledge.”