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New Report from a 47 Country Survey Examines Global Perceptions of Health Problems, Priorities and Donors

Embargoed for release until:
December 13, 2007

For further information contact:
Rob Graham, KFF, (650) 854-9400, rgraham@kff.org
Kate Schoen, KFF, (650) 854-9400, kschoen@kff.org
Richard Auxier, Pew, (202) 419-4332, rauxier@pewresearch.org

In recent years, wealthy countries, multinational organizations, and philanthropies have increasingly mobilized to address global health issues such as the spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases. To help inform these efforts, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Pew Global Attitudes Project today released findings from their new report from a 47 country survey that provides information about how people around the world perceive and prioritize health in their countries and gauge the efforts of donor nations.

The following are some of the key findings from the report A Global Look at Public Perceptions of Health Problems, Priorities, and Donors: The Kaiser/Pew Global Health Survey:

Public Health Priorities in Low and Middle Income Countries. Preventing and treating HIV/AIDS is the top-rated health priority in the countries surveyed in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Fighting hunger and malnutrition is the top priority among countries surveyed in Latin America and the Middle East. And access to health care is seen as the top priority in Central/Eastern Europe.

Almost all low and middle income countries surveyed rate each health issue quite high. Majorities in 23 of 34 low and middle income countries say every one of the nine health issues asked about should be “one of the most important” for their government to address.

HIV/AIDS. Among “high prevalence countries” (defined here as those with an estimated HIV prevalence of 5% or more) and “next wave countries” (considered to be at earlier, but emerging, stages of their epidemics with large populations potentially at risk for HIV infection), large majorities say that HIV is a bigger problem now than it was five years ago, but there is also a strong sense of progress in terms of HIV prevention and treatment in most countries.

Foreign Aid Resonates with Recipients. Majorities in nearly every country surveyed say wealthier countries are not doing enough to help poorer nations with problems such as economic development, reducing poverty, and improving health. But among countries surveyed that were major recipients of development aid, people were much more likely to say that wealthy nations are “doing enough” to help poorer nations. Among the countries most likely to say wealthy nations are doing enough are Indonesia and sub-Saharan African nations, which have been the focus of Tsunami relief and efforts to combat HIV/AIDS, respectively. In addition, the survey shows substantial support among wealthier nations to do more to help poorer nations.

The report also includes the following previously released findings:

Top Issues Around the World. People in sub-Saharan Africa rank the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases as the top problem facing their country. Crime is the top issue among countries surveyed in Latin America and Asia. Political corruption leads in Central Europe, while terrorism is number one in the Middle East. Among countries in Western Europe, pollution ranks highest.

Progress Toward Affording Health Care and Food. With rising GDPs in low and middle income countries, many fewer people today compared with five years ago report going without food and health care because they couldn’t afford these basic necessities. In 23 of the 35 countries for which trends are available, significantly fewer people than in 2002 say they have been unable to afford health care for their families in the past year. In 20 of these countries, significantly fewer now say they were unable to afford food in the past year. Despite the progress, the gap between rich and poor nations with respect to reports of hunger and lack of health care remains enormous.

The report was discussed at an event sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. as part of their Smart Power Speaker Series. The event – “How Do Citizens Around the World Regard Health and Donor Efforts to Strengthen Public Health” – included John J. Hamre, president and CEO, CSIS; Mollyann Brodie, vice president Public Opinion & Media Research, Kaiser Family Foundation; and Andrew Kohut, president, Pew Research Center. A webcast of the event will be available online.

The Kaiser Family Foundation is a non-profit, private operating foundation dedicated to providing information and analysis on health care issues to policymakers, the media, the health care community, and the general public. The Foundation is not associated with Kaiser Permanente or Kaiser Industries.