Low-Quality Health Care Is The Biggest Killer In Most Countries, Report Says

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Approximately six in 10 deaths in most countries are due to bad health care, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, according to a new report.

In the report published in medical journal The Lancet, nearly five million people in these countries are dying each year because of substandard care or low-quality health care. This finding surpasses the 3.6 million deaths from lack of access to health care and was out of 8.6 million total deaths from treatable conditions.

The researchers found that overall deaths from treatable conditions in 2015 cost the global economy some US$6 trillion. Hence, this points out to "systematic deficits" in primary and hospital care. India has the highest toll as bad health care was responsible for an estimated 1.6 million deaths every year.

"For too long, the global health discourse has been focused on improving access to care without sufficient emphasis on high-quality care," said Muhammad Pate, a co-author of the report by The Lancet Global Health Commission, of which he is co-chairman.

He added it is wasteful, ineffective, and unethical giving health services without ensuring a minimum level of quality. He also warned there was a "vast epidemic of low-quality care".

The report examined the low-quality health care and found out that it was a factor in cardiovascular deaths (84%), vaccine-preventable diseases (81%), and post-birth complications (61%).

According to the South China Morning Post, children and mothers in low- and middle-income countries often received less than half the number of prescribed interventions such as newborn check-ups and monitoring blood pressure during birth.

Furthermore, only less than half of suspected cases of tuberculosis were correctly managed, while a fewer than one in 10 individuals suffering from major depressive disorder received even minimally adequate treatment.

The report also stated diagnoses for serious conditions are frequently wrong, like heart attacks, pneumonia, and newborn asphyxia (death suffocation). The care for conditions that needed timely action can be too slow, reducing chances of survival.

Meanwhile, the wealthiest pregnant women were four times more likely to have blood pressure monitored, as well as urine and blood tests compared to low- and middle-income pregnant.

"Quality care should not be the purview of the elite or an aspiration for some distant future; it should be the DNA of all health systems," said commission co-chair Margaret Kruk of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "Countries will know they are on the way towards high-quality, accountable health systems when health workers and policymakers choose to receive health care in their own public institutions."

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