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WHO World Health Statistics Report Shows Gap Narrowing Between Countries With Best, Worst Health Status

In its World Health Statistics 2013 report, which “compares progress made by countries with the best health status and the worst status over two decades, from 1990,” the WHO “says the health gap between countries is narrowing, but there are continuing inequalities in health care,” BBC News reports. “Many people in low- and middle-income countries have insufficient access to medicines in the public sector, meaning they rely on the private sector, where prices can be up to 16 times higher, says the WHO,” the news service writes. The “annual statistics show progress is being made around the world in cutting child mortality — but it will miss its [Millennium Development Goal (MDG)] target of a two-thirds reduction by 2015,” the news service states, noting, “The number of under-fives dying fell from 12 million in 1990 to less than seven million in 2011, the data show.” According to the news service, “The statistics are compiled from many sources, including government birth and death registrations, hospital records, household surveys and research projects” (5/15).

A WHO press release states, “[T]his year’s World Health Statistics shows the considerable progress made in reducing child and maternal deaths, improving nutrition and reducing deaths and illness from HIV infection, tuberculosis and malaria.” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in the press release, “Intensive efforts to achieve the MDGs have clearly improved health for people all over the world. … But with less than 1,000 days to go to reach the MDG deadline, it is timely to ask if these efforts have made a difference in reducing the unacceptable inequities between the richest and poorest countries” (5/15).