NewsNorth AfricaHealth gap narrows between developed and poor states


Posted on Tuesday, 18 June 2013 08:19

Health gap narrows between developed and poor states

By Lawrence Quartey

Medical personnel working with Medecin de Monde conduct HIV tests at Ouidah's hospital near Cotonou November 28, 2007/Photo©ReutersSignificant progress has been made in improving health in the poorest countries, narrowing the gap between nations with the best and worst health status in the past two decades, World Health Organisation (WHO) 2013 statistics indicate.


It attributes the progress to efforts made to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which have reduced health gaps between the most-advantaged and least-advantaged countries.

For instance WHO says considerable progress has been made in reducing child and maternal deaths, improving nutrition and reducing deaths and illness from HIV infection, tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.

The statistics compare progress made by countries with the best health statuses and those with least-favourable health statuses at the MDG baseline year of 1990 and against two decades later.

In absolute terms, countries in the lowest 25 per cent category of health status made impressive health progress.

"For example, the absolute gap in child mortality between the top and bottom countries was reduced from 171 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 to 107 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2011.

"The gap between countries with the highest and lowest rates of new HIV infections narrowed from 360 to 261 people per 100,000 between 1990 and 2011.

"While new HIV infections increased six-fold for countries with the lowest rates, the group of countries with the highest rate have cut new HIV infections by 27 per cent," it says.

"Almost 10 per cent of the world's adult population has diabetes, measured by elevated fasting blood glucose.

"People with diabetes have increased risk of stroke and are 10 times more likely to need a lower limb amputation than people who do not have diabetes."

The report contains data from 194 countries on a range of mortality, disease and health system indicators including life expectancy, illnesses and deaths from key diseases, health services and treatments, financial investment in health, as well as risk factors and behaviours that affect health.

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