Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa Etienne says the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had played a leading role in preventing developing countries from implementing policies regarding primary health care.
Delivering the sixth annual Bernard A. Sorhaindo Memorial Lecture on Tuesday night, the Dominican-born PAHO official said the international lending institutions were informing these countries that “primary health care was a dream.
“One of the living examples is the country of Thailand,” she said, where the “World Bank actually dissuaded that they should not go the route of primary health care and universal health coverage.
“Thank God you have some very stubborn people in Thailand and today the health care system in Thailand is delivering health care with one of the greatest levels of equity”.
She said between the period 2004-06, PAHO began the renewal of primary health care and is concerned about health care for the poor around the world.
“The whole emphasis on universal health coverage is important. It is important because ill health is rooted in inequity and poverty,” she said, describing the situation as “the biggest obstacles to people enjoying a healthy status”.
She said Latin American and the Caribbean region is known “as the region with the highest levels of inequity.
“The disparities within our population are so great. We have the very very rich and the very very poor living side by side and it is this disparity and inequity that sets up the condition whereby people suffer ill health.
“In the world today over one billion people have no access to health care of any type and these are the sort of inequity that we are talking about,” Dr. Etienne said, as she spoke on the topic ““Universal Health Coverage”.
She said Dominica has been a pioneer in terms of primary health care based on the framework that was laid down as early as 1981 and which “continues to be the backbone of what is a health care system.
“But the history is that not many countries actually were successful in implementing primary health care,” she said, referring to the policies of the two Washington-based financial institutions.