11/21/2008, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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An “alternative” report on health care in a globalised world

by Melani Manel Perera
Released in 15 countries, the report analyses what it considers the true causes for health care shortfalls in many countries, indicating possible action strategies as solutions. In Sri Lanka the delivery of health care faces many hurdles, including limited resources.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – A “critical and integrated assessment of both the state of global health and the policies and actions taken to reduce global health inequalities and unacceptable levels of ill-health” is lacking, said Vinnya Ariyaratne, executive director of Sarvodaya Movement. He made the statement in Colombo where he on Wednesday presented Global Health Watch 2, a report on health care that wants to be an alternative to official studies by the United Nations and other groups.

“Too often,” he said, “the state of ill-health in many poor countries is framed as a problem of disease, geography, bad luck or poor government. Rarely, it is properly framed as a symptom and outcome of political and economic choices, or the current form of globalization which has created a deep chasm between a minority of 'winners' and a majority of 'losers'.”

By contrast, the report sponsored by People's Health Movement (PHM), Medact and Global Equity Gauge Alliance is also intended to assess the performance and actions of certain key institutions such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank and others.

PHM coordinator Sirimal Peiris told AsiaNews that the report, which was released in about 15 countries, provides an alternative view as to what constitutes effective action on global health care problems in order to meet the essential and basic needs in human populations.

Sri Lanka is not immune from this problem; it too is confronted by major public health issues, especially since it is plagued by an endless conflict between the military and Tamil Tiger rebels over a large chunk of its territory where no public health care can be effectively provided.

According to official WHO data (2005), public spending on health care represents 4.1 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, or about US$ 100 per person. Specialised staff is also in short supply; for instance, on average there is just one dentist for every 10,000 people and 17 nursing and midwifery staff for every 10,000 newly born.

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