As the global population increases, the world will likely experience increased health crisis – hence the need for a new approach to healthcare. By meeting and possibly extending the requirements stipulated in the Alma-Ata declaration on healthcare and the Global Strategy for Health for all, medical services providers around the world can achieve to deliver quality and accessible healthcare to all communities despite their physical or financial capabilities. While it is critical to acknowledge the strides achieved in improving healthcare, it is also important to note the achievements yet to be attained in promoting equality and equity in the provision of primary health care and what needs to be done to improve healthcare in the future.
Many countries are yet to attain millennium development goals that address the burden of childhood diseases, malnutrition, maternal conditions, and communicable diseases. This is despite a shift in the global patterns of disease following an ageing population and exposure to an unhealthy environment that includes the use of drugs, unhealthy food, and lack of physical activity. The World Health Organization predicts that over 61 percent of people around the world will contract communicable diseases in their lifetime (Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, 2018). WHO raises concern over the rise and coexistence of multiple chronic conditions in individuals, a factor that presents a challenge to the management of disease – again, calling for effective management of health services. In addition to chronic diseases, the burden of mental health has taken a toll in many countries. Mental health problems are today considered among the leading untreated epidemics (Valderas et al., 2009). The solution to these problems requires a responsive and multi-sectorial approach that integrates disease prevention policies with health promotion across all communities.
Among the goals stated in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SGD 3) is the promotion of health across all demographics. With particular communities in the U.S. claiming neglect and discrimination by health providers and the government, the achievement of the SGD 3 targets could promote the health and well-being of all communities. Among areas that the government and health providers can ensure equitable healthcare is through the provision of universal health care (UHC) and primary health care (PHC). Notably, UHC involves the provision of financial protection, increasing access to quality services, and making available medicines and vaccines. Although current UHC programs achieve some of these objectives, healthcare providers are yet to implement the Affordable Care Act. With the full implementation of the ACA expected on January 1, 2020, it remains to be seen whether states will expand Medicaid to include adults particularly those from minority groups, and the impact the allocations by Congress regarding the CSR payments will have on equity and equality of healthcare.
The future of healthcare is likely to change radically, given social and policy changes. Technology will likely play a significant role in the administration of healthcare, even as medical professionals are being encouraged to enhance the provision of evidence-based healthcare. Fortunately, as has been in the past, technology will eliminate some diseases, thus loft the burden that affects the poor and the marginalized on access to adequate healthcare. The use of technology could ensure a holistic approach to healthcare and encompass social, physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Big data on patients will also enhance planning activities and drive the change expected after the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Indeed, cognitive technologies could inspire equitable and quality healthcare for all.
Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation. (2018). Global Burden of Disease. Seattle, WA: University of Washington
Valderas, J. M., Starfield, B., Sibbald, B., Salisbury, C., & Roland, M. (2009). Defining comorbidity: implications for understanding health and health services. The Annals of Family Medicine, 7(4), 357-363.
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