Inés San Martín
Nov 17, 2017
Pope Francis shakes hands with a volunteer during a surprise visit to a small facility near St. Peter's Square where doctors on a volunteer basis give poor people medical exams, at the Vatican, Thursday, Nov. 17, 2017. Francis on Thursday decried that, increasingly, only the privileged can afford sophisticated medical treatments and urged lawmakers to ensure that health care laws protect the “common good.” (Credit: L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP.)
At a time when healthcare reform remains a hot-button issue in the United States, a Vatican summit is reminding the world that fully one-third of the human population has no access to healthcare or medicines at all, and around the world the cost of drugs and medical treatment often pushes people into poverty.
ROME - All over the world, questions abound about who has access to healthcare, and how they pay for it. In the U.S., debt caused by healthcare costs contributes to 62 percent of personal bankruptcy cases. Globally, 100 million people slide into poverty as a result of essential medical care payments.
It’s worth remembering, however, that fully one third of the world’s population has no access to needed medicines to begin with.
In the case of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, which affects 25 million people in Africa, those who need treatment often have to pay 18 times more than in the United States because of the monopoly of pharmaceutical industries. Hepatitis C affects 1 in five people around the world, for most of whom it’s a death sentence because they can’t afford the medicines that would cure them in just eight weeks.
Life expectancy at birth in sub-Saharan Africa is 46 years, while in countries such as Italy it’s over 80. In the former, however, an estimated 6 million children last year didn’t reach the age of five.