The covid-19 pandemic has wiped out decades worth of global health progress. This has affected different countries disproportionately, as weaker healthcare systems were more prone to the pandemic. While service coverage has improved in the last 20 years, the proportion of people facing financial hardship due to out-of-pocket health spending has increased. With rising poverty and shrinking incomes resulting from the global economic recession and health systems struggling to provide continuity of health services, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to halt the progress made towards universal health coverage, particularly among disadvantaged populations. Even amongst nations with powerful economies and high GDP like the United States, performance of their medical sector was subpar at combatting the covid pandemic. The resulting average cumulative deaths due to covid of a US state are between 100-130% higher than that of a European country. If one lesson can be taken from the preventable loss of life that was witnessed on an unprecedented scale in modern history, it is that strengthening the healthcare systems of countries should become a top priority.
Many differing health systems are utilized around the world currently. What constitutes a strong, reliable healthcare system? If that can be identified, we can create a model to serve as the ideal that healthcare sectors on a worldwide scale should strive for.
The differing relevant predictors are as follows:
Expenditure on health sector
Source of funding (Government or private funding)
Allocation of funds
The following data reflects the relevant metrics between the years 2012 and 2020. The USA is a clear outlier when it comes to the spending budget in their health sector, in terms of both Government and private spending, totaling $10,921 spent per capita. The East Asia & Pacific, as well as the Middle-East, are on the other side of the spectrum, with very low funding from all sources at an average of $742 and $507 per capita respectively. As for the European union, its spending is somewhere in between, at an average of $3476 per capita.
For our determinant of healthcare performance, the utilized metric we will use is the health indicators published by the WDI in 2019. Despite the USA’s excessive healthcare expenditures, it still scores lower than the European countries on health indicators. Despite the low spending in China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, they both command strong health metrics. India and Morocco on the other hand, despite spending less than South Africa, still have significantly higher health metrics.
This is to show that spending budgets do not correlate to the performance of a health sector. Instead, allocation of the funds seems to be the more deterministic variable, as all the countries of the European union, as well as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and China have Universal healthcare or a system that closely resembles it at the very least. Despite lower levels of spending, the precise designation of these funds has led to significantly higher health indicators. In addition, systems that adopt universal healthcare naturally converge into a preventative medical model, as preventing diseases from happening to begin with leads to decreased medical bills, whereas remedial treatment leads to increased expenditures as the root cause of the associated disease is often left untreated. These preventative measures result in a ripple effect, exponentially decreasing the rate at which people get sick, and as a result further reducing required expenditure on healthcare.
In conclusion, high levels of funds is no replacement for proper allocation of said funds. Our findings are as follows:
Healthcare sectors should adopt preventative measures for treatment as opposed to focusing on curing ailments as they arise
Countries need to aim towards universal healthcare, and begin to adopt makeshift models until implementing such a system is feasible, or adopt it entirely if available funds allow it
Despite rising commodity prices and concerns from international leaders about energy scarcities and gas costs at the pump, millions of people in Africa still do not have access to electricity.
Only three nations in West and Central Africa are on track to provide power to every citizen by 2030, according to the SDG7 agenda. In the region, 263 million people will go without electricity in ten years if things continue at this poor rate. One of the lowest rates of electricity access in the world is in West Africa, where only 8% of rural inhabitants and 42% of the general population have access to it.
These numbers—some much too large, some much too small—have serious repercussions. Enhancing people’s chances and options starts with electricity. Access is essential for increasing economic activity and helps to improve human capital, which is an investment in a nation’s future potential.
Children cannot complete their education at night without electricity. Businesspeople are unable to trade with one another or obtain market information. Even worse, as the COVID-19 epidemic has so clearly demonstrated, a lack of energy restricts hospital and emergency services, putting patients at even greater risk and tainting priceless medications.
How will West and Central Africa be powered?
Accelerating the transition to universal energy access is crucial right now in order to fuel the continent’s economic change and encourage socioeconomic inclusion. Without consistent access to electricity, a nation’s social fabric may suffer, with those without it growing weary of inequality. Here are some audacious strategies that are needed to address the energy access challenge in the African continent.
One of the things can be done is to make utilities profitable. Many electricity suppliers in the area are cash-strapped and run infrastructure and a generation fleet that is outdated and in poor condition. As a result, they are unable to provide their consumers with electricity that is both dependable and economical, much alone provide electricity to those who currently have to rely on subpar alternatives to electricity. In Sub-Saharan Africa, less than half of the utilities make back their operating costs, which causes GDP losses of up to 4% in some nations.
Lowering the cost of supply is a requirement for increasing electricity access to those who are currently without it, typically lower-income and frequently remote households. This is accomplished by improving the performance of national utilities and greening their power generation mix.
West and Central African nations must go outside their boundaries in order to further link their national utilities and grids to other systems in the area. This is a crucial second point. Without effective regional trade, many nations would be largely dependent on a small number of energy supplies and polluting generation sources, necessitating the importation of fuel at volatile international oil prices.
Last but not least, political leaders will need to dedicate a lot of time and effort to obtaining universal access to power, especially when it comes to creating laws and rules that can draw reputable investments.
As we grow up, we become more aware of the sacrifices our parents and family make for us to live a decent life. As early as our teenage years, we dream of the day we’ll be able to reward them for what they’ve done. How many times have we heard someone saying: “I want to work as hard as possible so that one day I can afford to buy my mother a house”. Unfortunately, not all dreams are realized, some people find it very difficult to face life on their own. They end up adding a burden on their family as they grow up, instead of it being the other way around. Those are the people who couldn’t afford a decent job or were unfortunate on the financial front. Let’s try to project this onto the relation between mother earth and it’s children, the human kind. Will the less fortunate be the source of the burden too ? Yet more importantly, will those who make it to the financial heavens reward their mother ? To answer those questions, we need to consult two visualizations. The first one in red below, shows the amount of CO2 emitted per capita from different selected countries. At the first glance, we might assume that the industrious countries are the ones responsible for the greater share of air pollution. Hence, the industrious nature of a country is directly proportional to its contribution in polluting the atmosphere. Yet if we look closely, we can see that china which is much more industrious than Canada for example, releases much less carbon dioxide than the latter (477.6 vs 136.5). This hints towards further investigation. What has lead me towards the correlation between financial well being and pollution across various countries is the idea derived by the clinical psychologist and Harvard professor, Dr. Jordan Peterson, who thinks that solving the global warming crisis requires improving the overall quality of life for human beings so that they would have the capacity to contribute towards a healthier environment. Putting this into practice via the second visualization which measures the human capital index ( The Index measures which countries are best in mobilizing the economic and professional potential of its citizens.) we can see that the results of a more developed economic circumstances have a negative effect on the environmental well being of a country when comparing it with visualization (1) (HCI and CO2 emissions are inversely proportional). This contradicts the notion pushed forward by Dr. Peterson; yet, calls for action towards cultivating this potential of economic abundance and educational excellence into repaying mother earth by enhancing its environmental health.
To conclude, I believe that a mother never improves her life conditions on the expense of her children’s well being. Nevertheless, we as human beings, especially the more fortunate should start investing our fortunes towards a better global environment and repay earth for all the resources it has provided us with. On the other hand, trying to blame the less fortunate countries for the responsibilities of the more privileged/capable countries isn’t the way forward.
The mortality rate in Africa countries is very high compared to other countries worldwide. One cause of the mortality rate is the unintentional poisoning especially children. Because of the high poverty rate, low access to water, and high literacy rate, people are not much aware of the importance of hygenie and sanitation. This is causing a high mortality rate due to the unsafe water, sanitation and lack of hygiene. There is lot of unintentional poisoning cases in Africa compared to other countries in different continents. The problem is very serious and needs immediate response since its contribution to the overall mortality rate is high.
A response of the addressed problem is curing the poisoned case; however, the capacity in hospitals is low as the number of beds per 1000 persons is very low. Therefore, we are looking forward to solve the root problem and not only react to it. So, a good solution for the addressed problem is to increase awareness of how to avoid poisoning especially at home by the government, or related parties.
The awarness should takle these three aspects:
-How to clean food (vegetables, fruits) at home
-Filtering water with basic tools
-Right way of taking a medicine and storing it
-Right way to use chemicals or detergents and keep them away from children
More than 90% of poisoning cases are occurring at home. Therefore, starting to spread awareness of how to avoid getting poisoned at home might reduce the unintentional poisoning that is causing death. Thus, we are decreasing the mortality rate.
It’s true that we want to solve the problem from its base; however, we should also know how to provide good care and treatment for a poisoned case. This should be teached to people as first aid sessions to be eligible to approach a case and prevent the deterioration of his health or death.
Public health is linked to the economic strength of a country as health expenditure is positively associated with the productivity and GDP of a nation. The advances and improvement of many of the main forces driving economic growth over time span such as technological progress, education, and physical capital accumulation contribute to the improvement of health services in countries. However, with the world divided between first, second and third world countries, public health situation differs between economically strong and weak countries.
COVID-19, as a recent event, shed light on the differences in health systems within the Arab world, especially that the region includes some of the richest oil producing countries as well as poor and war-torn countries.
The below graph visually views the differences between the GDP of the Arab League Countries in the Year 2019. For example, at the top of the GDP scale , we have Qatar, a relatively geographically small GCC country and biggest producer of natural gas, has a GDP of $175 billion which is more than GDP of Libya, Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen combined.
The size of a country’s GDP determines the monetary value of its health expenditure as a percentage of GDP. Comparing the GDP tree map with Health Expenditure graph below , we can see that countries with high GDP (e.g, Qatar, UAE) shows small percentage of health expenditure while Countries with low GDP (e.g, Lebanon, Jordan) shows larger percentage of health expenditure.
In monetary terms, Lebanon has a highest total health expenditure % in the Arab World which amounts to 8.64%($51.6 B)= $4.45 billion. On the other hand, Qatar has a low health expenditure % of 2.9 but when multiplied by the country’s GDP, it amounts to 2.9%($175 B)= $5 billion.
Health Expenditure per capita shows the direct impact of GDP of a country on its health spending. As shown in the below graph, countries with high GDP have high health expenditure compared countries with low GDPs.
The above discussion pointed out the relationship between the strength of a country’s economy and its health spending. The question that remains is “How does this reflect on the health of people?”
Countries that allocate large budgets for the development of the health sector and public health perform well in the face of diseases, especially communicable diseases and pandemics such as COVID-19. The below bubble chart shows that countries with low GDP have the highest percentage of deaths by communicable diseases.
Life Expectancy and Death Rate
To further show the evidence of the impact of GDP and public health spending, we consider both indicators: Life Expectancy at Birth and Death Rate in the Arab League Countries.
Life Expectancy at Birth: we can that people from countries with high GDPs and high health expenditure per capita. Qatar leads the way with 80 years expected age in 2020 while Yemen has an expected age of 66 years in the same year.
Death Rate: the same pattern seen with Life Expectancy is also seen in death rates per 1000 persons. Qatar has a death rate of 1.2 compared to Yemen which has a death rate of 5.9, both in 2020.
What should be done?
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #3 “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” points out the need for improving the public health of the world population. Health spending by governments is a very important factor in the health of their people. However, for those countries who are economically disadvantaged, improving health can be also achieved through:
Investing in education, especially in medicine studies to make sure the health sector has the competent doctors and specialists.
Directing international aid more towards developing health sectors in poor countries rather than urgent assistance.
Investing in awareness: one of the most important ways to improve health in developing countries is by educating citizens to take preventive healthcare measures and avoid riskier health behaviors.
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