More than half the world’s population live in rural areas, but only 23 percent of the global health workforce is deployed to these areas. More than half of the world’s population in rural areas live and work without access to essential health care services, says a new report released Monday by the United Nation’s International Labor Organization.
According to the report, 56 percent of people living in rural areas worldwide cannot access health care, exasperating the rural-urban divide. The number is significant considering over half of the world’s population lives in rural regions. The problem is most acute in Africa, where 83 percent of rural dwellers have no access to health care.
Countries who face the highest levels of poverty are the ones that are most affected, says the ILO. The problem is mainly linked to the underfunding of health services, which is particularly pronounced in rural areas where only 23 percent of the global health workforce is deployed, despite these areas being over half the population. “Decades of underinvestment in health interrupted efforts to develop national health systems and ultimately resulted in the neglect of health in rural areas,” said Isabel Ortiz, director of the ILO’s Social Protection Department in a press release.
The report also notes that being uncovered by public or private insurance is a small factor, but not a major one, since even in countries that guarantee access to health care by law, it is frequently unenforced. The report – which was published in the Global evidence on inequalities in rural health protections report – concludes that comprehensive and structural reforms are needed in the areas of rights of rural inhabitants, health workers, funding, financial protection and quality of care in order to address the gaps in health care access.
Published: 28 April 2015. By Telesur
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