Universal Health Coverage

Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

{Photo Credit: Warren Zelman}Photo Credit: Warren Zelman

On the fifth anniversary of the UHC movement, we reflect on a few key steps to reach UHC.

In the five years since the United Nations adopted the momentous resolution that established the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) movement—achieving equitable, affordable access to high-quality health services for all who need them—countries have made significant progress toward providing basic health services to large segments of the population. This year marks an important moment for advancing UHC, as the new Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has made it abundantly clear that UHC is a priority for his administration.

That is great news. We have seen more countries and institutions working toward practical interventions that will make UHC a reality. We have seen them make financial and managerial commitments that will be critical for the global health community to achieve this noble, oft-lifesaving goal. But more work remains.

 

Achieving UHC through governance and financing

 

 {Photo credit: Alison Corbacio/MSH}From left: Ugochi Daniels, UNFPA; Chunmei Li, Johnson & Johnson; Antoine Ndiaye, MSH; Lara Zakaria, Syrian American Medical Society; Irene Koek, USAID; Loyce Pace, Global Health Council.Photo credit: Alison Corbacio/MSH

Health systems strengthening was front and center in discussions held in New York on the sidelines of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly. MSH hosted three events spotlighting how strong health systems are critical to resiliency and stability in fragile environments, at the core for global health security and essential for achieving universal health coverage. Here are some highlights from the week. See more on Twitter , and .

 {Photo credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH}Community Health Volunteer in a remote village of Tulear, Madagascar, giving instructions to a client on the use of pregnancy tests.Photo credit: Samy Rakotoniaina/MSH

How Countries Can Move toward Building Sustainable Community Health Programs

Universal health coverage (UHC) is increasingly recognized as the best way to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal targets on health. But with 400 million people lacking access to essential health services and a projected shortage of 18 million health workers, it will take unprecedented effort and funding. Community health workers (CHWs) could be an important part of the solution—but without effective investments and sound planning, we will fall short of achieving UHC.

 {Photo credit: MSH staff.}Journalists raise their hands in solidarity to support AMR advocacy and containment at the close of a SIAPS-supported workshop organized by the Food, Medicine and Health Care Administration and Control Authority of Ethiopia in June 2012.Photo credit: MSH staff.

Achieving universal health coverage (UHC) won’t be possible without paying close attention to one of our most pressing global health threats: drug-resistant infections.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microorganisms develop resistance to a medicine that was originally intended to disable or kill them. While microbes naturally develop resistance to antimicrobials over time, excessive or inappropriate use of antibiotics speeds up AMR. The issue is a big challenge to UHC, jeopardizing the effectiveness of surgical procedures and threatening the treatment of many infectious diseases, including malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS.

According to estimates from The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance, a report commissioned by the U.K. government and the Wellcome Trust, the financial burden from AMR could be as much as USD 100 trillion and the global gross domestic product could decrease 3.5% by 2050. AMR also causes immense loss of life—700,000 people die from drug-resistant infections each year, and this number is expected to grow to 10 million by 2050 if AMR is not contained.

 {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!

Like and share this ecard on Facebook:

 

Pages

Printer Friendly Version
Subscribe to RSS - Universal Health Coverage