Inequitable health cover isn't up to Bill Gates to fix, says UN

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It’s up to governments to legislate for more universal health coverage, says International Labour Organization. IAEA@PHOTO

Huge gaps in people's access to healthcare depending on where they live are not an issue for Bill Gates but rather for governments to sort out, a UN expert said Monday.

Xenia Scheil-Adlung, health labour specialist at the International Labour Organization (ILO), said the Microsoft tycoon couldn't just "come in and spend some money" to fix what was in fact a state-made problem.

Her warning comes as the ILO publishes data showing that more than half of the world's rural communities have no essential health cover – that's two times as bad as urban areas.

Daniel Johnson has more.

If you live in a developing country, away from a big city, and you have a medical emergency, the prognosis isn't good at all.

That's the life-and-death message from the International Labour Organization.

For Xenia Scheil-Adlung , ILO report author, the lack of access to essential healthcare for people in rural areas is an equality issue that governments have been shirking – and a problem that only they can fix.

"Everybody has a right to health and is not just waiting for Bill Gates to come in a spend some money on this or that disease."

The ILO expert stressed that the Microsoft founder's charitable work was hugely significant.

But she said that it was time for governments to address the problem of unequal health coverage by ensuring their health dollars went far beyond the city limits.

At the moment 56 per cent of people in rural areas around the globe do not have access to essential healthcare, which is more than double the 22 per cent figure for urban areas.

The ILO report shows discrepancies are worst in African nations including Nigeria, where more than 82 per cent of people in rural areas have no medical cover, compared to 37 per cent in urban areas.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1'10"


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