Poor quality health services are holding back progress on improving health in countries at all income levels, according to a new joint report by the OECD, World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank.
According to the reports,inaccurate diagnosis, medication errors, inappropriate or unnecessary treatment, inadequate or unsafe clinical facilities or practices, or providers who lack adequate training and expertise prevail in all countries.
The situation is worst in low and middle-income countries where 10 percent of hospitalized patients can expect to acquire an infection during their stay, as compared to seven percent in high income countries. This is despite hospital acquired infections being easily avoided through better hygiene, improved infection control practices and appropriate use of antimicrobials.. At the same time, one in ten patients is harmed during medical treatment in high income countries.
There has been some progress in improving quality, for example in survival rates for cancer and cardiovascular disease. Even so, the broader economic and social costs of poor quality care, including long-term disability, impairment and lost productivity, are estimated to amount to trillions of dollars each year.
“At WHO we are committed to ensuring that people everywhere can obtain health services when and where they need them. We are equally committed to ensuring that those services are good quality. Quite honestly, there can be no universal health coverage without quality care,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“Without quality health services, universal health coverage will remain an empty promise.The economic and social benefits are clear and we need to see a much stronger focus on investing in and improving quality to create trust in health services and give everyone access to high-quality, people-centred health services,”said OECD Secretary-General Ángel Gurría.
“Good health is the foundation of a country’s human capital, and no country can afford low-quality or unsafe healthcare. Low-quality care disproportionately impacts the poor, which is not only morally reprehensible, it is economically unsustainable for families and entire countries,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said.
The three organizations outline the steps governments, health services and their workers, together with citizens and patients, urgently need to take to improve health care quality.