RESULTS UK joined over 60 organisations today in launching a report calling on world leaders to act ahead of the high level event on health on 23rd September at the UN General Assembly to make health care free and save lives.
User fees for health care are a life or death issue for millions of people in poor countries. Too poor to pay, women and children are paying with their lives. For those who do pay, over 100 million are pushed into poverty each year.
On 23rd September world leaders will meet at the United Nations General Assembly in New York for a high-level event on health. On the table is a proposal to support at least seven developing countries to fully implement free care for women and children or to expand free health services to all.
The seven countries are Burundi, Ghana, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Nepal and Sierra Leone. The need to make health care free and expand access in these and other countries is beyond question, but to do so successfully requires high-level political commitment and sustained additional financial and technical support.
RESULTS UK’s Deputy Director, Louise Holly, says “For more than two decades, RESULTS has been advocating for the donor community to do more to improve the health of the world’s poorest people. Poor health is both a cause and effect of poverty. Poor housing and sanitation, malnutrition and lack of access to medicine lead to poor health. Conversely, someone who is ill is unable to attend school, provide for their family and play an active role in their community.”
“User fees have prevented the poor – particularly women, girls and the disabled – from accessing crucial health services. Those who do pay medical expenses are often pushed further into a spiral of poverty and debt.”
“It is now widely accepted that removing user fees leads to better utilisation of health services by the poor. After decades of delay, the World Bank announced in 2004 that they now have ‘no blanket policy on user fees’ but are not providing sufficient support to countries who want to provide free healthcare.”
Sixty-two organisations are calling on leaders in the North and South to back this proposal on 23rd September and announce the additional and long-term support they will provide over the coming years to make it a success.
Earlier this month, RESULTS UK members got together to learn about the impact of user fees on the poor. They will be meeting their MPs and will be asking them to speak to the Secretary of State for International Development, Douglas Alexander, and request that he push the World Bank to adopt a clear policy against user fees during the Annual Meetings of the World Bank in October.
A copy of the report ‘Your Money or Your Life’ is available at: