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. Females in India can on average expect to live just over 60 years of a healthy life unhampered by disabling illness or injuries, the lowest healthy life expectancy among 11 countries in the World Health Organisation’s South East Asia region.
. Even when it comes to men, there are just two countries in this region, Timor-Leste and Myanmar, that are worse off in terms of healthy life expectancy.
. One factor that clearly contributes to this is the fact that the mortality rate of children under five years is the highest in these same countries, Timor-Leste and Myanmar being again even worse off than India.
. These sobering realities emerge from data in a WHO report on the region’s progress in achieving universal health coverage and the health-related sustainable development goals.
. In the countries with the best performance in the region, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Maldives, health expenditure as a share of total government expenditure is among the highest in the region.
. In contrast, the estimated share of spending on health in total government spending is the lowest in India (3.4%), Bangladesh (3%) and Myanmar (3.5).
. Consequently, in these three countries, out-of-pocket expenditure, that is people spending from their own savings constitutes between 63% in India and 76% in Myanmar compared to just 11% in Thailand.
. Given this situation, it comes as no surprise that Bangladesh and India also have the highest proportion of their population, 7% and 4.2% respectively, being pushed into poverty because of having to spend on healthcare.
. They also have the highest proportions of people who spent more than 10% of their household’s total expenditure on healthcare, a situation that is described as catastrophic health expenditure.
. Almost a quarter of the population in Bangladesh and over 17% in India are estimated to face catastrophic expenditure due to healthcare.
. Health inequity analysis showed that some people were able to “live healthier lives and have better access to health services than others – entirely due to the conditions in which they are born, grow, live, work and age”.
. It stressed the need to collect high-quality disaggregated data for monitoring health inequalities to enable framing of appropriate policies for ensuring equitable access to and uptake of health services.

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