250,000 families hurt by high health costs

Published by rudy Date posted on March 24, 2011

SOME 250,000 Filipino families struggle financially each year with high costs of health care, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday.

According to the WHO, “new figures suggest that each year more than 1.15 million families in Vietnam and almost 250,000 families in the Philippines fall into financial hardship because of to the costs of health care.”

The international health body said that based on its survey, the same scenario could be observed in other Asian countries such as Cambodia, China, Laos and Mongolia.

“We are all troubled that in many countries around the world, millions of people suffer from ill-health because they cannot get the health care they need or because paying for healthcare devastates their livelihood,” said Dr. Shin Young-soo, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific.

“This is of particular concern in our region, where out-of-pocket payments for medicines and health services are often excessive,” he added.

WHO said that in all these countries, many other households were not even able to access healthcare because of the high costs.

The studies, commissioned by WHO this year, seek to give governments a better understanding of how households are adversely affected by health payments.

The surveys found that people who do receive treatment sometimes are driven into poverty because of the costs of medicines and health services.

WHO noted that many more simply cannot afford care and, therefore, fall prey to the potential risk of serious health consequences.

In an effort to alleviate the financial burden of health payments, WHO and partner agencies, in collaboration with six participating countries, began discussions in Manila on Wednesday regarding the studies and their broader health financing policy implications.

The two-day meeting will also consider how the participating countries and development partners can work in closer partnership on health financing issues. -ROMMEL C. LONTAYAO REPORTER, Manila Times

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