The Rockefeller Foundation has unveiled a 100-million dollar initiative to make health care much more accessible in developing countries.
The “Transforming Health Systems” project aims to help countries in Africa and Asia that lack the latest treatments and technology; and where many people are forced to pay their medical bills out of pocket.
Rockefeller Foundation President Judith Rodin spoke to VOA from Nairobi where the initiative was launched Wednesday.
“While health spending has increased dramatically around the world, what is very clear is that access to affordable quality health services has not. And that that’s particularly true in developing countries,” she says.
She says, “In many places, financial support, cures, treatments can’t reach the people who need them the most because the delivery mechanisms are clogged. They’re congested and confusing.”
Health care often too costly
The World Health Organization says about 125 million people spend nearly half their annual incomes on health care due to inadequate health systems. It also says “catastrophic health expenditures” push 25 million families back into poverty annually.
“We recognize that if health systems themselves are not improved, the health services are not going to reach the people who are most desperate for them. Or, it will just be so costly that people won’t even try to seek care,’ she says.
Three tier strategy
“First, to equip governments with the technology, the training, the talent, the tools to improve their health systems…. Second, to broker partnerships between the public sector and non-profits, NGOs, religious groups and the private health service providers…. Third, and absolutely crucial, is really expanding the use of e-Health,” she says.
The Rockefeller Foundation efforts to enhance e-Health involve improving information technologies “including mobile phones, health records and integrated health information systems.”
“There are many countries around the world that haven’t yet invested in technology,” she says.
Investing during economic crisis
“Obviously, our resources have shrunk as others have as well, but we are passionately committed to this issue…. Supporting some of these very significant efforts even during the hardest of times, maybe especially during the hardest of times,” she says.