Easy access to health care services is vital to the social and economic development of a nation. Although many challenges are faced in the provision and delivery of health services, most nations strive to make health care affordable and easily accessible to all their citizens. The main challenge faced in developing and third world countries is underfunding the health sector. This makes it virtually impossible to carry out necessary reforms aimed at improving service provision in the sector. As a result, many health infrastructures get dilapidated and cannot effectively handle health cases with their availability limited to only urban areas (WHO, 2004).
Another challenge faced by nations aiming at providing affordable health care services is poverty. Many citizens are not able to access basic health services since they cannot afford these services (WHO, 2002). Many are forced to seek alternative treatment options which may not be safe for their health while others opt not to seek medical attention. Such cases are more prevalent in the rural areas where communities are not financially privileged. Poverty also results in low life expectancy levels since communities are prone to diseases that would otherwise not be fatal if better and affordable health care services are readily available.
Lack of proper monitoring programs affects service provision in the health sector. The absence of these programs creates a notion that all citizens’ needs are well taken care of in health care systems. In reality, only a few have access to and benefit from these systems. Policymakers, therefore, need to formulate laws that will institutionalize management, monitoring, evaluation, and implementation of set health care reforms to improve service provision and delivery in the sector.
The realization of a global world where affordable health care is accessible to all greatly depends on various reforms that need to be undertaken. These reforms will ensure better service provision within the health sector. Some of these reforms include public-private partnerships. Central governments should provide incentives in the health sector in training, management and capacity building to increase the personnel base in the sector. For instance, the number of doctors in Turkey grew from 554 in 1923 to 2387 in 1940 as a result of the provision of incentives in medical education (WHO, 2000). Community-based organizations that provide safe and hygienic sanitation services should be developed. These organizations will be charged with the responsibilities of providing hygienic sanitation and empowering communities to be actively involved in decision-making in health sector reforms.
Equitable distribution of health infrastructures and personnel throughout the country ensures that many can easily access health services. This reduces rural-urban migration as rural residents can now access affordable health services within their localities. Governments should also provide universal insurance policies that cover the poor and vulnerable in society (Saka & Savas, 2002). Universal health insurance policies will have the eventual effect of eliminating disparities in health care access.
In retrospect, central governments should recognize the important role played by the health sector in the social and economic development of their countries. The focus should shift from formulation to enforcement of policies that will ensure better and affordable health care services for all. Developing countries, in partnership with developed nations, should develop sound health care systems that cover all in the society and constitute institutions that monitor reform implementation in the sector.
WHO. World health report 2000: health systems: improving performance. Geneva: World Health Organisation. Web.
Saka, O. & Savas, B. (2002). Health care systems in transition: Turkey. Copenhagen, European Observatory on HealthCare Systems, 4(4). Web.
WHO (2004). The world health report 2004: Changing history. Geneva: World Health Organization. Web.
WHO Regional Office for Europe (2002).The European health report 2002. Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe: 156. Web.