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Understaffed & Unavailable: The Biggest Healthcare Problems


This article is published in collaboration with Statista

by Felix Richter


Celebrated each year on April 7 to commemorate the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1948, World Health Day usually draws attention to a specific health topic that concerns people across the globe. This year’s celebration, coinciding with the WHO’s 75th anniversary, is under the motto “Health For All”, as the WHO’s founding mission was to promote health and wellbeing everywhere and for everyone.


While healthcare systems around the world have been put to the toughest possible test during the Covid-19 pandemic, they face a wide range of challenges even during “normal” times. These complexities can impact the quality and accessibility of care provided to patients and vary widely from country to country. According to Ipsos’ 2022 Global Health Monitor, some problems are very widespread internationally, however, despite the many different approaches in how healthcare is funded and provided.


One major challenge, as highlighted by the pandemic, is a shortage of healthcare professionals, be it doctors, nurses or other medical staff. 42 percent of the more than 23,000 respondents surveyed by Ipsos named shortage of staff as one of the biggest problems facing the health system in their country, making it the number 1 issue internationally along with access to treatment and long waiting times. More often than not, the two are closely related, however, as long wait times are a result of shortages in medical staff. This is particularly true in rural or other underserved communities and can ultimately prevent patients from receiving the care they need.


The cost of treatment is the third major challenge faced by healthcare systems around the world, although it must be noted that the perceived importance of this issue varies greatly across countries. While people in many European markets with universal healthcare don’t perceive this as a major problem, it is the number one issue in the United States by far. The U.S. has the most expensive healthcare system and, in the absence of universal health insurance, many Americans struggle to pay their medical bills.


Overall, addressing the challenges listed in the chart requires a combination of increased investment in healthcare staffing and infrastructure, as well as efforts to improve the efficiency and accessibility of healthcare delivery.


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