Access to medicine unevenly distributed around the world

Austria has 52 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants while Rwanda has only one. The gaps are large between rich and less well-off countries, particularly countries in Africa.

he analysis of the density of doctors by country provides a fairly accurate overview of health inequalities in the world. There is a very large gap between the best endowed countries and the poorest ones: where Austria has 52 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants, Rwanda and Uganda only have one, according to 2015 data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The rich countries of the planet are all characterized by a number of doctors well above 25 per 10,000 inhabitants: 44 in Norway, 42 in Germany, 40 in Russia and 39 in Italy and Spain. In France, there are 32 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants. At the bottom of the scale, the countries of Africa, and more particularly of East Africa, are distinguished by a very low medical workforce, generally one doctor per 10,000 inhabitants. Thailand (5), Vietnam (8), Sri Lanka (9) or Pakistan (10) are hardly better endowed.

Even if, in terms of health, many other factors play a role such as hygiene, diet, working conditions, etc., the consequences of the lack of doctors in certain regions of the world, most often the poorest, are important. African countries are indeed experiencing higher infant mortality or more frequent epidemics (AIDS, tuberculosis, etc.), which weighs considerably on life expectancies, which are much lower than elsewhere in the world.

These data only provide a very general overview of inequalities in access to healthcare. Admittedly, there is a higher probability of being better treated in a country with 50 doctors per 10,000 inhabitants than in one with ten times fewer, but the number is not necessarily always synonymous with quality of care. It would be necessary to be able to observe both the number and the geography of the establishment of the practitioners: certain inhabitants of rural areas have to travel tens of kilometres to find very reduced access to care (infirmary with basic care). There is also a need for affordable drugs and specialists for the most serious diseases, areas where inequalities are even greater between rich and poor countries.

Also Read: 10 Poorest Countries in Europe

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