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Friday, 10 June 2016

Poor basic care in developing world could create major ‘healthcare crisis’

Written by The Editorial Team

A failure to implement robust primary healthcare systems could see the developing world combating a $21trillion healthcare crisis – equivalent to the GDP of the USA and UK combined.

Stuart Telfer, Programme Leader of University of the West of Scotland’s new Master’s Degree in Global Primary Care Management, warned that low and middle income countries could inadvertently face the massive economic burden by 2030 by failing to prevent and treat conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, mental illness and cancer.

He said earlier intervention to combat the illnesses could prevent more costly treatments later – and prevent the parts of the developing world from falling into a healthcare crisis.

Speaking as UWS prepares to launch the Master’s, Mr Telfer said: “Health systems in low and middle-income countries are on the verge of a crisis because of a failure to prevent, diagnose and treat basic diseases that are diagnosed at an early stage elsewhere.

“A report published in The American Journal of Public Health estimated that the cost of non-communicable diseases to low and middle income countries could be as much as $21trillion – equivalent to the GDP of the United States and United Kingdom combined.

“A lack of robust primary care systems can mean people are unaware they are living with conditions like diabetes or cardiovascular disease until they become advanced. This can place a huge burden on hospitals, families and communities and leads to glaring inequalities in health among the global population.

“We need to invest in better primary care management now to prevent what could quickly become a global healthcare crisis.”

Statistics released by the World Health Organisation in May revealed that new-born children in 29 countries – all of them high-income – have an average life expectancy of 80 years or more. Those in 22 sub-Saharan African countries have life expectancy of less than 60 years.

In releasing the figures, the WHO said that supporting a move towards strong universal healthcare with strong primary care is the ‘best thing’ to ensure no country is left behind.

Commenting on the figures, Mr Telfer added: “Countries such as the United Kingdom are fortunate in that we have the experience and processes to diagnose and treat conditions early. It is important we share those lessons so countries across the world can combat the deep inequality poor healthcare can cause.

“Graduates from our MSc in Global Primary Care Management will have the health systems knowledge and the business acumen to address the stark differences in healthcare levels highlighted in the WHO statistics.

“This double-pronged approach will be crucial when liaising with governments and leaders to improve basic healthcare for people around the world.”

The MSc in Global Primary Care Management will operate from the university’s London campus and will also be available fully online distance learning.

Available full-time over one year or part-time across three to five years, the course will offer students the opportunity to examine global health systems and equip them with the leadership and entrepreneurial skills to establish and improve primary health care systems.

The course is due to welcome its first student intake in September 2016.

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