Worldwide, 400 million people lack access to essential health services, and the cost of healthcare is forcing many into poverty, the World Bank and World Health Organization reported.
A new report by the bank and WHO on tracking universal health care (UHC) coverage said more people than ever around the world, 80 percent, have access to key health services.
The two institutions say, universal health care encompasses services that should reach everyone regardless of socioeconomic level: family planning, antenatal care, skilled support when giving birth, child immunization, TB treatment, HIV antiretroviral therapy, improved water sources and improved sanitary facilities.
Only a few of those services reach those hundreds of millions. In addition, in low and middle-income countries, 6% of the people were at risk of being forced into or pushed further into poverty by health care costs.
"This report is a wakeup call: It shows that we're a long way from achieving universal health coverage. We must expand access to health and protect the poorest from health expenses that are causing them severe financial hardship," said Tim Evans, Senior director of health, nutrition and population at the World Bank.
The impoverishing impact of catastrophic health expenses has diminished over the past decade. "However, there is still a long way to go on the road to UHC, both in terms of health service and financial protection coverage," the report said.