|Aid wasted on private healthcare in poor nations: Oxfam|
|Thursday, 12 February 2009|
Oxfam aid is given out to villagers some 250 kilometres from the Zimbabwean capital Harare. The international aid agency Oxfam urged the World Bank and rich nations Thursday to stop "wasting" donations and possibly risking lives by backing unproven private healthcare programmes in poor countries(AFP/File/Desmond Kwande)
LONDON (AFP) - International aid agency Oxfam urged the World Bank and rich nations Thursday to stop "wasting" donations and possibly risking lives by backing unproven private healthcare programmes in poor countries.
A new Oxfam report on healthcare reveals many private schemes perform poorly -- in China, for example, one third of drugs dispensed by private vendors are counterfeit -- but they continue to be backed by international donors.
"Donors' romantic views of private sector health providers are completely divorced from the facts," said report author Anna Marriott.
"In Malawi 70 percent of private providers are shops. For the most part, private healthcare in poor countries is made up of unqualified shopkeepers selling out-of-date medicines. Is that what you would want for your sick baby?"
Oxfam says the World Bank is pushing privatised healthcare despite a lack of evidence that it is the best option, and the US and British development bodies (USAID and DFID), and the Asian Development Bank are following suit.
At the same time, aid for public primary healthcare services in poor countries has almost halved in the last decade, the report says -- so it is no surprise if they are now weak and badly run.
"After years of donor under-investment in government healthcare, to claim that government failure is inevitable is like tying a football player’s laces together and blaming him for losing the match," Marriott said.
She cites Sri Lanka as one case where public healthcare has led to rapidly improving life chances. Women there can now expect to live almost as long as those in Germany, despite an income ten times smaller, she said.
While Lebanon spends twice as much as Sri Lanka on healthcare, its infant and maternal mortality rates are 2.5 and three times higher respectively.
|Last Updated ( Friday, 09 October 2009 )|
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