At least half the world’s population lacks access to essential health services, the World Bank and World Health Organization, or WHO, said on Wednesday. The organisations added that each year, several households are pushed into poverty because they have to pay for healthcare.

“Currently, 800 million people spend at least 10% of their household budgets on health expenses for themselves, a sick child or other family member,” the Tracking Universal Health Coverage: 2017 Global Monitoring Report said. “For almost 100 million people, these expenses are high enough to push them into extreme poverty, forcing them to survive on just $1.90 [around Rs 120] or less a day.”

“It is completely unacceptable that half the world still lacks coverage for the most essential health services,” WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “A solution exists: universal health coverage. It allows everyone to obtain the health services they need, when and where they need them, without facing financial hardship.”

World Bank Group President Dr Jim Yong Kim called for improved efforts towards universal health coverage. “Investments in health and more generally, investments in people are critical to build human capital and enable sustainable and inclusive economic growth,” he said.

However, the report also showed an improvement in access to immunisation, family planning and anti-retroviral treatment for the Human Immunodeficiency Virus as well as malaria in the 21st century. Also, fewer people are now being forced into extreme poverty each year than at the turn of the century.