Universal Health Coverage

Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

 {Photo Credit: Geoffrey Ddamba.}A peer educator mobilizes clients for outreach services in the Kawempe area of Kampala, Uganda.Photo Credit: Geoffrey Ddamba.

Many civil society organizations (CSOs) play an essential role as service providers and advocates in health systems around the world. They can connect policymakers and providers to the communities they serve, promote smarter decision-making, and foster local ownership. If countries are going to make Universal Health Coverage (UHC) a reality, it will be side-by-side and in partnership with civil society.

Delivering essential health services

Although many low- and middle-income countries lack public sector healthcare infrastructure and human resources for health, civil society can help fill in the gaps. Governments can partner with CSOs through mechanisms such as grants and contracts to leverage these organizations’ capacities to avoid duplication, reduce inefficiencies, and increase access.

For example, the USAID-funded Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Project, led by Management Sciences for Health, worked with the Honduran Ministry of Health from 2012 to 2016 to contract with NGOs to provide HIV/AIDS services to key populations. In total, the LMG Project helped the ministry sign 25 contracts with NGOs to provide education, prevention, and rapid testing services for nearly 40,000 people over three years.

{Photo Credit: Melissa Garcia}Photo Credit: Melissa Garcia

(Cross-posted on the International Consortium for Emergency Contraception website).

With the current largest generation of young people, there is much to celebrate on August 12, International Youth Day. In particular, there is the growing recognition that as agents of change, adolescents and young people and their organisations are essential stakeholders who contribute to inclusive, just, sustainable and peaceful societies. Crucially, advocates working on sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and reproductive rights (RR) advance access for young people in meaningful ways.

{Photo credit: MSH}Members of government and civil society from Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Philippines work together on priority challenges related to ensuring persons with disabilities in their countries can access the rehabilitation services they need.Photo credit: MSH

A recent increase in political commitment and global cooperation has led many countries to adopt Universal Health Coverage (UHC) strategies—such as establishing packages of essential health services and implementing health financing reforms—in an effort to ensure their citizens have access to basic health care services. Health is increasingly being embraced as the driver of human welfare and sustained economic and social development, but I wonder: If persons with disabilities are not deliberately included in the design of UHC strategies and reforms, will they be left behind? What do we, as a development community, stand to gain if we prioritize disability inclusion?

UHC is for everyone

Persons with disabilities are the world’s largest minority group. One in seven people around the world—15 percent of the world’s population, accounting for more than one billion individuals—live with some form of disability. Yet, they are rarely at the table when health policies and programs are being designed, governed, or evaluated. The majority of these persons live in the developing world. Disability disproportionately affects the key populations who already face development inequities, such as women, the elderly, people living in poverty, indigenous populations, ethnic minorities, and LGBT persons.

MSH Delegation: Matthew Martin, Crystal Lander, Catharine Taylor, Marian Wentworth, Stuart Knight, Barbara Ayotte, and Alison Corbacio

As the Trump Administration released its truncated global health budget last week, ministers of health, members of civil society and the private sector, and government delegations met in Geneva for the annual World Health Assembly to discuss programs that exemplify the value of foreign assistance and its tangible effect on families in some of the poorest countries. In advance of the meeting, MSH released position statements on WHA agenda items. Dozens of governments led by Germany and South Africa, signed the Global Compact for Universal Health Coverage 2030 committing to make affordable and quality healthcare accessible for all. This year’s WHA was particularly historic with the nomination of the WHO’s first African Director-General, Dr.

 {Photo by: Simon Davis / DfID / CC BY}Marina Kamara, a doctor at the Connaight Hospital in Sierra Leone, follows up on a suspected kidney infection in one of their patients.Photo by: Simon Davis / DfID / CC BY

Global health advocates are urging G20 leaders to emphasize global health security by strengthening health systems in the poorest countries, reported Andrew Green in Devex December 21, 2016.

Previous G-20 summits have addressed individual epidemics, but public health professionals and advocates are urging the forum to widen its lens to include health systems, which form the first line of defense in emergencies. They hope the effort might ultimately help advance universal health coverage, which campaigners argue would provide the best guard against future epidemics.

“The problem isn’t the outbreak, which is an inevitability that will happen,” said Frank Smith, who heads the No More Epidemics campaign. “The problem is the capacity of the system to identify the threat as a threat and to respond effectively.”

Read the article on Devex

Happy holidays and health on earth!

Envision a 2017 where everyone has the opportunity for a healthy life. Working together for stronger health systems around the world in 2017. Best wishes for the new year!

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{Photo credit: Tsion Issayas/MSH}Photo credit: Tsion Issayas/MSH

This post originally appeared on the Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program blog as, "UHC Day 2016: Strong pharmaceutical management boosts access to essential medicines".

On this day (December 12) in 2014, the global health community made a commitment to universal health coverage (UHC) throughout the world. Although progress has been made, more than one billion people still lack access to basic health care. Further, as The Lancet Commission report, Essential Medicines for Universal Health Coverage, said in November, most low-income countries lack structural access to even basic essential medicines.

Bridging this gap requires system-wide interventions, such as strengthening the role of government, better medicines regulation, promoting quality use, and more transparency and accountability. These activities can reap big benefits.

With a sound pharmaceutical system, “for US $1–2 per month, every person in low-income and middle-income countries can have access to a basket of about 200 essential medicines,” according to the report.

{A woman at provincial health services department in Sri Lanka. (Photo Credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank)}A woman at provincial health services department in Sri Lanka. (Photo Credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank)

This article was originally published on Devex on November 18, 2016

As finance advisers in global health, we are regularly in conversations with health ministers in low- and middle-income countries who have been charged with the commendable but daunting task of achieving universal health coverage for their citizens.

In other words, they must ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them, with special emphasis on serving the poor and disadvantaged. Our conversations often boil down to some key questions: How much will it cost, who will pay, and how do we ensure that funds are used effectively and responsibly?

MSH Vice President, Pharmaceuticals & Health Technologies Group, Dr. Douglas Keene, tells Devex how strong governance enables access to medicines.MSH Vice President, Pharmaceuticals & Health Technologies Group, Dr. Douglas Keene, tells Devex how strong governance enables access to medicines.

This week, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and Devex are talking about how to maximize the impact of access to medicines in low- and middle-income countries. Below are excerpts, descriptions, videos, and links to the conversation. See the full conversation on Access to Medicines.

By strengthening governance and promoting transparency, developing countries can be better equipped to regulate the flow of medicines and support their efficient and effective use. Countries could make much progress by assuring the quality of medicines, but what is really being achieved in practice?

Recent global crises such as Ebola and Zika have revealed the dangers of weak health systems. As countries work to strengthen these systems, Dr. Douglas Keene, vice president of the pharmaceuticals & health technologies group at MSH, advises policymakers to first start by addressing existing regulations and governance.

{Photo credit: MSH staff, South Africa}Photo credit: MSH staff, South Africa

This post, first published on The Huffington Post, is part 5 in the MSH series on improving the health of the poorest and most vulnerable women, children, and communities by prioritizing prevention and preparing health systems for epidemics. Join the conversation online with hashtag .

Struck with a prolonged and worsening illness, Faith, a 37-year-old Nairobi woman raising her two children, sought help from local clinics. She came away each time with no diagnosis and occasionally an absurdly useless packet of antihistamines. Finally, a friend urged her to get an HIV test. When it came back positive, Faith wanted to kill herself, and got hold of a poison.

All epidemics arise from weak health systems, like the one that failed to serve Faith. Where people are poor and health systems are under-resourced, diseases like AIDS, Yellow Fever, Ebola, TB, Zika, Malaria, steadily march the afflicted to an early grave, decimating families, communities and economies along the way.

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