As the global community shifts to meet the challenge of universal health care (UHC), the new priorities and imperatives facing emerging economies will require attention and investment. Climbing costs, the rapid escalation of chronic diseases, emergence of complex morbidities and poly-morbidities, relentless urbanization, and the expanding expectations of citizens are simultaneously confronting countries as they move towards UHC. Responding effectively to the UHC challenges will entail strengthened health systems to generate better patient services and improved population outcomes. Investing in hospitals and their performance will be key to this success.
Reaching the expectations of universal health coverage requires renewed efforts to upgrade and strengthen hospital investments, and to promote the integration of patient care across levels of care. Whether addressing ebola outbreaks, promoting maternal and infant survival, managing the burgeoning chronic disease epidemic, or simply meeting the ICU and surgery commitments of health care, hospitals remain central. The lack of investment and modernization of hospitals—whether in physical plant infrastructure or management systems—over the past few decades has rendered many expensive inpatient institutions shells of their potential.
This paper outlines the nature of the issues surrounding hospitals in emerging markets and makes the case for early action to bridge the abyss of neglected hospital investments and the path needed to address the shortcomings and gaps in current policies and investments.
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