Health gap narrows between countries with best and worst health status

The world is making significant progress in improving health in the poorest countries to narrow the gap between countries with the best and worth health status, according to a recent report.

The World Health Organization released the report on Wednesday, which is called World Health Statistics 2013. The annual report highlights how attempts to reach the Millennium Development Goals reduced health gaps between the least-advantaged and most-advantaged countries. Progress was made in reducing deaths and illness from HIV infection, malaria and tuberculosis, improving nutrition and reducing child and maternal deaths.

"Intensive efforts to achieve the MDGs have clearly improved health for people all over the world," Margaret Chan, the director-general of the WHO, said. "But with less than 1,000 days to go to reach the MDG deadline, it is timely to ask if these efforts have made a difference in reducing the unacceptable inequities between the richest and poorest countries."

The annual report is a comprehensive publication of health-related global statistics that contains data from 194 countries on a range of mortality, disease and health system indicators, such as health services and treatments, risk factors and behaviors and life expectancy.

The WHO said that while progress is being made, much more needs to be done to reach the MDGs by 2015.

"Our statistics show that overall the gaps are closing between the most-advantaged and least-advantaged countries of the world," Ties Boerma, the director of the Department of Health Statistics and Information Systems at the WHO, said. "However, the situation is far from satisfactory as progress is uneven and large gaps persist between and within countries. "