Background: Universal health coverage has been proposed as a strategy to improve health in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). However, this is contingent on the provision of good-quality health care. We estimate the excess mortality for conditions targeted in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that are amenable to health care and the portion of this excess mortality due to poor-quality care in 137 LMICs, in which excess mortality refers to deaths that could have been averted in settings with strong health systems.
Methods: Using data from the 2016 Global Burden of Disease study, we calculated mortality amenable to personal health care for 61 SDG conditions by comparing case fatality between each LMIC with corresponding numbers from 23 high-income reference countries with strong health systems. We used data on health-care utilisation from population surveys to separately estimate the portion of amenable mortality attributable to non-utilisation of health care versus that attributable to receipt of poor-quality care.
Findings: 15·6 million excess deaths from 61 conditions occurred in LMICs in 2016. After excluding deaths that could be prevented through public health measures, 8·6 million excess deaths were amenable to health care of which 5·0 million were estimated to be due to receipt of poor-quality care and 3·6 million were due to non-utilisation of health care. Poor quality of health care was a major driver of excess mortality across conditions, from cardiovascular disease and injuries to neonatal and communicable disorders.
Interpretation: Universal health coverage for SDG conditions could avert 8·6 million deaths per year but only if expansion of service coverage is accompanied by investments into high-quality health systems.
Funding: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an Open Access article under the CC BY 4.0 license. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.