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Around 30 poor countries, severely lacking capacity in their healthcare systems, are exposed to epidemics such as Ebola, according to a new report from Save the Children. The NGO documents the quality of public healthcare systems, using indicators such as the number of health workers and neonatal mortality rates in the world's 72 poorest countries. (Read: 10 reasons that make the Ebola virus deadly for humans)
Brazil has a good healthcare system despite poor resources, while Somalia has the weakest healthcare system in the world, Efe news agency cited the report released on Monday as stating. Save the Children asserts that there are at least 28 countries with worse healthcare systems than Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three countries most affected by the recent Ebola outbreak which led to 9,365 deaths. (Read: Latest Ebola News: North Korea lifts Ebola travel restrictions)
These countries would be highly vulnerable to an epidemic if faced with an outbreak of a disease like Ebola. The NGO suggests that such an outbreak is increasingly probable as these countries have highly mobile populations, conducive to the transmission of zoonotic diseases (those transmitted from animals to humans), two more of which are being discovered every year. (Read:8 tips to prevent Ebola infection)
In the Save the Children report, the co-discoverer of Ebola, Belgian biologist Peter Piot, director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, supports a petition to invest more money in strengthening the healthcare systems of poor countries to make them functional and epidemic resistant. (Read:Ebola Facts: Top 7 myths busted)
Save the Children says the cost of operations to curb Ebola in West Africa has surpassed $4.3 billion, whereas the costs involved in boosting the public healthcare systems of these countries would have been around $1.58 billion. The countries with the best healthcare systems in the world are led by Australia, followed by Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan and Norway, according to the report.
Spain appears in the seventh place, followed by Switzerland, Britain, and the US. Save the Children has urged world leaders to learn from the lessons of the outbreak in West Africa ahead of a forthcoming Ebola summit in Brussels.The NGO is taking to the summit proposals to reconstruct the healthcare systems of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, to invest in creating a universal healthcare system in all vulnerable countries, and that governments in vulnerable countries set aside at least 15 percent of their national budget for health.
Image source: Getty Images
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