The Irish Times view on health spending: A global transformation

Government investment in healthcare rises worldwide with reliance on out-of-pocket expenses slowly declining

Governments provide, on average, 51% of a country’s health spending, while more than 35% per country comes from out-of-pocket expenses. Photograph: Getty Images

Governments provide, on average, 51% of a country’s health spending, while more than 35% per country comes from out-of-pocket expenses. Photograph: Getty Images

 

A new report from the World Health Organisation (WHO) has found spending on health is growing faster than the rest of the global economy. At 10 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016, it also shows an upward trajectory. In low- and middle-income countries health spending is rising on average by six per cent annually compared with four per cent in high-income countries.

When government spending on health increases, people are less likely to fall into poverty when seeking health services, the report says. And in a finding relevant to Ireland, it notes that government spending only reduces inequities in access when allocations are planned to ensure the entire population can obtain primary healthcare.

Governments provide, on average, 51 per cent of a country’s health spending, while more than 35 per cent per country comes from out-of-pocket expenses. Reliance on out-of-pocket expenses is declining slowly; however, the report estimates some 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty each year by the personal financial burden they experience when seeking healthcare.

In low- and middle-income countries new data suggest that more than half of health spending is devoted to primary healthcare. The sector receives lower funding priority in high-income countries where public spending on health per capita went from an average of $1,357 in 2000 to $2,257 in 2016, a 66 per cent increase. Last October, the WHO’s 194 member states recognised the importance of primary healthcare in their adoption of the Declaration of Astana. They need now to act on that declaration and prioritise spending on quality healthcare in the community, the report’s authors state.

Overall, the report represents good news for global health. A transformation in the way health is funded means there is more public investment and less reliance on out-of-pocket expenditure. Rather than seeing health spending solely as a cost, there is merit in viewing it as an investment in poverty reduction and in the promotion of a healthier and fairer society.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.