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BMJ Examines New Strategy For Universal Healthcare In Asia Pacific

A BMJ News article examines a new strategy, which was released at the 60th session of WHO’s regional committee for the Western Pacific, calling for countries in the Asia Pacific region to “strive for universal access to health care.”

“The high levels of out of pocket spending on health care in many of the countries in the region are a major barrier to achieving universal coverage, WHO says. In addition to calling for more and sustained investment in health care, the strategy offers countries clear benchmarks that can help them move closer to universal coverage, said Henk Bekedam, director of health sector development at WHO’s office for the Western Pacific region in Manila,” BMJ News writes.

Sian Griffiths, director of the School of Public Health and Primary Care at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said the new strategy is timely because the global economic downturn has put the 900 million people in Asia and the Pacific who live on less than $2 a day at greater risk of deeper poverty due to “catastrophic health expenses.” She said, “You are more likely to achieve universal healthcare coverage in rich countries, but a lot of countries in this region are fragile and at risk. There are real risks at this time that the emphasis on prevention and accessibility of cheap drugs will be lost” (Parry, 9/29).