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Health at a Glance: Asia/Pacific 2018

Measuring Progress towards Universal Health Coverage

image of Health at a Glance: Asia/Pacific 2018

This fifth edition of Health at a Glance Asia/Pacific presents a set of key indicators of health status, the determinants of health, health care resources and utilisation, health care expenditure and financing and quality of care across 27 Asia-Pacific countries and territories. It also provides a series of dashboards to compare performance across countries, and a thematic analysis on health inequalities. Drawing on a wide range of data sources, it builds on the format used in previous editions of Health at a Glance, and gives readers a better understanding of the factors that affect the health of populations and the performance of health systems in these countries and territories. Each of the indicators is presented in a user-friendly format, consisting of charts illustrating variations across countries and over time, brief descriptive analyses highlighting the major findings conveyed by the data, and a methodological box on the definition of the indicator and any limitations in data comparability. An annex provides additional information on the demographic context in which health systems operate.

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Health inequalities

Unequal access to fundamental rights and services – such as health care – required for individuals to sustain and improve their livelihoods stifle economic growth and poverty reduction and undermine social cohesion and stability (UNESCAP, 2017).The United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development aims to leave no one behind, and the reduction of inequalities is said explicitly in SDG 10 “to reduce inequality within and among countries”. SDG 3 is a call to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, which implies tackling inequalities in health (WHO, 2017a).The aim of this chapter is to explore health inequalities across a number of social determinants: gender, economic status, education and place of residence. Evidence suggests that certain socially disadvantaged groups tend to use health services less, although these groups may need health services more. This phenomenon, sometimes referred to as “inverse care law”, can partly be explained by the fact that disadvantaged groups typically face multiple barriers in accessing services, such as financial, geographical and cultural barriers. Using country data from Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS), this chapter analyses disparities in access to care and use of services by also looking at changes over time. Comparing results from earlier and later surveys reveals that access rates to care for the most marginalised groups have improved. However, it also finds that women in worst-off households living in rural areas constantly report significant problems in accessing care when needed due to distance and financial reasons.

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