World Bank: People Spend Half a Trillion Dollars Out-Of-Pocket on Health in Developing Countries Annually
TOKYO, Japan, June 27, 2019 -- People in developing countries spend half a trillion dollars annually — over $80 per person -- out of their own pockets to access health services, and such expenses hit the poor the hardest, according to a new report by the World Bank Group launched ahead of the G20 Summit. It says that lack of universal access to quality, affordable health services threatens decades-long progress on health, endangers countries’ long-term economic prospects, and makes them more vulnerable to pandemic risks.
Financing Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in developing countries is a priority for the G20 Presidency of Japan. The World Bank report will inform a first-ever G20 Finance and Health Ministers joint session hosted by Japan on June 28 in Osaka, after being discussed by G20 Finance Ministers earlier this month. Globally, health is an important economic sector that accounts for 11 percent of GDP and generates millions of jobs, many of them for women.
“UHC is not just about better health, it is fundamental to inclusive growth,” said Taro Aso, Finance Minister of Japan. “Japan’s adoption of a system that provided quality, affordable healthcare in 1961 helped drive decades of social and economic progress. We believe UHC is essential for all developing countries and the G20 has a critical role to play to enable it.”
The report, titled High-Performance Health Financing for Universal Health Coverage, projects that by the year 2030, the target date of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), there will be a $176 billion gap in the 54 poorest countries between the financing needed to provide their populations with quality, affordable health services and funding that is actually available. Without urgent action, developing countries faced with aging populations and growing burdens of non-communicable diseases will find themselves increasingly challenged to close the gap between the demand for health spending and available public resources, and will prolong the reliance on out-of-pocket spending by patients and their families.
“Health is an essential human capital investment that countries must make for their people to succeed at school and at work,” said Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of the World Bank. “We must act urgently to fix the insufficient, inefficient, and inequitable financing of health that is holding back people and countries.”
The report calls for increases in national investments in health and making investment in health a whole-of-government priority, improving financial sustainability by scaling proven investments like primary health services that reach the poorest, and taxing tobacco, alcohol and sugary drinks to raise revenue and improve health. It says international assistance for health should be increased, focused on countries and populations that are furthest behind and on building national institutions and capacities.
“The African Union has made a commitment in February 2019 to increase national investments in health on the continent, and to institutionalize collaboration between Ministers of Finance and Health in Africa,” said Mohamed Maait, Minister of Finance of Egypt, which is currently chair of the African Union and invited to the G20 special Ministerial session in Osaka. “We welcome this G20 and World Bank Group initiative and intend to take this agenda forward at the regional level in Africa over the next year during Egypt’s Presidency of the AU.”
Even in the best-case scenario with greater, more efficient and more equitable country and international investments, the report projects that the 2030 UHC financing gap will not be closed. It urges that health financing therefore be a major priority for innovation over the next decade to help bridge the gap.

Prime minister of Japan on preparations and expectations at 2019 G20 summit in Osaka Japan

Following the successful completion of the G20 Buenos Aires Summit on December 1, 2018, Japan has finally assumed the G20 presidency for the very first time. Next year, Japan will host the G20 Osaka Summit on June 28 and 29, 2019. In addition to the G20 members, we will also welcome leaders of invited guest countries and head of invited guest international organizations. This will be the largest summit meeting that Japan has ever hosted.

Osaka will be the venue for hosting the G20, the “premier forum for international economic cooperation,” which gathers and brings together many developed countries and emerging countries with growing presence in the international economy. Osaka has historically prospered as a commercial hub and its unique tradition and culture, including food culture, has recently gained much reputation home and abroad. Moreover, Osaka has thrived as a merchant city and has constantly sought to take in new ideas. It is a place where the spirit and willingness to take on new challenges has been nurtured, and was also chosen to host the Osaka-Kansai Expo in 2025.

At the Osaka Summit, Japan is determined to lead global economic growth by promoting free trade and innovation, achieving both economic growth and reduction of disparities, and contributing to the development agenda and other global issues with the SDGs at its core. Through these efforts, Japan seeks to realize and promote a free and open, inclusive and sustainable, "human-centered future society."

In addition, we will lead discussions on the supply of global commons for realizing global growth such as quality infrastructure and global health. As the presidency, we will exert strong leadership in discussions aimed towards resolving global issues such as climate change and ocean plastic waste.

Furthermore, we will discuss how to address the digital economy from an institutional perspective and issues that arise from an aging society. We will introduce Japan’s efforts, including the productivity revolution amid a “Society 5.0” era, towards achieving a society where all individuals are actively engaged.

We will also be hosting related Ministerial meetings starting from the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in Fukuoka,
Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting in Niigata,
Ministerial Meeting on Trade and Digital Economy in Tsukuba, Ibaraki,
Ministerial Meeting on Energy Transitions and Global Environment for Sustainable Growth in Karuizawa, Nagano,
Labour and Employment Ministers’ Meeting in Matsuyama, Ehime,
Health Ministers’ Meeting in Okayama,
Tourism Ministers’ Meeting in Kutchan, Hokkaido,
and Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Nagoya, Aichi.

There will be many delegations and journalists from all over the world who will be visiting Japan on the occasion of the Osaka Summit and these Ministerial meetings. We will take this as an opportunity to exhibit Japan’s "Omotenashi" spirit (hospitality) and introduce the unique aspects and attractiveness of Japan and the host cities to the world.

With great support from you all, I am determined to lead the Osaka Summit towards great success.