By ONIKOSI ANUOLUWATOYOSI, THE TIMES OF INDIA
Underutilization of funds is one of the major problems that states who have not yet implemented the right to the health as a fundamental human right face. This exact report was given by the Ministry of Health in India. The 58th session of the World Health Assembly five years ago endorsed a resolution urging member states to work towards sustainable health financing, with a view to achieving Universal coverage and sustainability. This resolution proposed key preventive, curative, and rehabilitative health interventions for all at an affordable cost, thereby achieving equity in access.
Sustainable health financing as well as utilization of funds would allow states not only to adequately manage their resources but also focus on various key aspects of their citizens’ lives and well being. It would also foster various human rights of citizens and enable the government to adequately address these rights enshrined in various international and regional conventions.
States must, however, also review food policies and produce imported into the country and the overall long-term effect that consumption of such produce may have on the population. States should collect data and prepare reports and as well as statistics on the number of the population that have access to a healthy diet, good clean water, and proper exercise. Also, the number of children and infants who have access to good diets as well as those that are malnourished should be taken into account. Governments may also propose old and traditional means to the citizens as alternatives.
Reach out campaigns and programs to inspire and empower citizens to live healthy lives and care for their environment must also be encouraged. This would help reduce the rate of persons taking ill due to poor environmental situations. Exercising in addition to eating healthy and living in clean and hygienic environments would help greatly in alleviating shorter life expectancy and greater prevalence of chronic conditions.
There also exists the challenge of responding to the needs of the most disadvantaged members of society especially with states in similar circumstances as India. The inequalities by socioeconomic status, geography, and gender continue to persist in many countries with regards to persons with disabilities or chronic illnesses in particular. This is further compounded by high out-of-pocket expenditures coupled with the rising financial burden of health care by private individuals in many states. This has greatly contributed to the increasing rate of poverty yearly in India and many other countries of the world. An estimated 39 million Indians have fallen into poverty each year due to increasing cost of healthcare.
There should therefore be the incorporation of establishing equity in health care. As suggested by Yarlini Balarajan, S Selvaraj, and S V Subramanian, these may include the adoption of equity metrics in monitoring, evaluation, and strategic planning, investment in developing a rigorous knowledge-base of health systems research, development of more equity-focused process of deliberative decision-making in health reform, and redefinition of the specific responsibilities and accountabilities of key actors.
There are current sessions and deliberation ongoing in the Social Humanitarian and Cultural Committee of the General Assembly and this piece simply hopes to provide an angle to the problems and feasible solutions of access to health which may be implemented in upcoming resolutions as well as in the national legislations of states around the world.