A report by Save The Children ranks the world’s poorest countries on the state of their public health systems and finds that 28 have weaker defences in place than Liberia, one of the places worst-hit by ebola.
By comparing details such as the numbers of health workers, spending on health and mortality rates, it found Somalia ranks the lowest followed by Chad, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Haiti, Ethiopia, Central African Republic, Guinea, Niger, and Mali.
The agency warns that an increasingly mobile population intensifies the threat of infectious disease outbreaks like ebola, which has killed more than 9,500 people in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. The emergence each year of two zoonotic diseases — those that can be passed between animals and humans — also puts children at even greater risk.
It is calling on the
international community to invest in stronger health systems to avoid a future virus from spreading even faster and further.
The report , A Wake Up Call: Lessons From Ebola for the world’s health systems, sets out a number of actions, including making a commitment towards enabling everyone in the world to have access to essential healthcare.
It argues the international relief effort in West Africa due to ebola has cost $4.3bn (€3.8bn). Strengthening the health systems of those countries in the first place would have cost just $1.58bn.
Ahead of an ebola summit attended by world leaders in Brussels today, it warns alongside immediate support to Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, lessons need to be learned and applied to other vulnerable countriesaround the world.Its chief executive, Justin Forsyth, said: “A robust health system could have stopped Ebola in its tracks saving thousands of children’s lives and billions of pounds.
“Without trained health workers and a functioning health system in place, it’s more likely that an epidemic could spread across international borders with catastrophic effects.
“The world woke up to Ebola but now people need to wake up to the scandal of weak health systems, which not only risk new diseases spreading, but also contribute to the deaths of 17,000 children each day from preventable causes like pneumonia and malaria.”