GENEVA, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Poor quality health services are holding back progress on improving health in countries at all income levels, according to a latest report jointly released on Thursday by World Health Organization (WHO), the OECD, and the World Bank.
The report, entitled "Delivering Quality Health Services -- a Global Imperative for Universal Health Coverage", highlights that about 10 percent of hospitalized patients in low and middle-income countries can expect to acquire an infection during their stay, as compared with 7 percent in high income countries.
That's so even though hospital acquired infections can be easily avoided through better hygiene, improved infection control practices and appropriate use of antimicrobials, the WHO said in the report.
Inaccurate diagnosis, medication errors, inappropriate or unnecessary treatment, inadequate or unsafe clinical facilities or practices, or providers who lack adequate training and expertise prevail in all countries.
But again, health care workers in seven low- and middle-income African countries were only able to make accurate diagnoses one third to three quarters of the time, and clinical guidelines for common conditions were followed less than 45 percent of the time on average, according to the report.
Meanwhile, research in eight high-mortality countries in the Caribbean and Africa found that effective, quality maternal and child health services are far less prevalent than suggested by just looking at access to services. For example, just 28 percent of antenatal care, 26 percent of family planning services and 21 percent of sick-child care across these countries qualified as "effective."
"Without quality health services, universal health coverage will remain an empty promise," said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria. "The economic and social benefits are clear and we need to see a much stronger focus on investing in and improving quality to create trust in health services and give everyone access to high-quality, people-centered health services."
In response, the three organizations that released the report outline some steps that governments, health services and their workers, together with citizens and patients, urgently need to take to improve health care quality.
Governments should lead the way with strong national health care quality policies and strategies; citizens should be empowered and informed to actively engage in health care decisions and in designing new models of care to meet the needs of their local communities.
Also health systems should focus on competent care and user experience to ensure confidence in the system, while health care workers should see patients as partners and commit themselves to providing and using data to demonstrate the effectiveness and safety of health care.