Dec 12, 2021 - World

Report: Pandemic pushed over half a billion into extreme poverty

Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

More than half a billion people globally were pushed into extreme poverty last year due to health care costs during the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization and the World Bank said Sunday.

Why it matters: The pandemic exasperated global inequities in access to health care, according to the organizations. It also triggered the worst economic crisis since the 1930s, ultimately making health care harder for people to obtain.

  • The organizations reiterated that global health care disparities predated the pandemic, adding that before the virus struck, "almost 1 billion people were spending more than 10% of their household budget on health."

What they're saying: "All governments must immediately resume and accelerate efforts to ensure every one of their citizens can access health services," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

  • "This means strengthening public spending on health and social support, and increasing their focus on primary health care systems that can provide essential care close to home," he added.
  • We "must build health systems that are strong enough to withstand shocks, such as the next pandemic and stay on course toward universal health coverage."
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