Universal Health Coverage

Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

{Photo credit: Todd Shapera}Photo credit: Todd Shapera

This post originally appeared on Devex.com.

Worldwide, there are severe shortfalls in the health workforce—not just in the quantity of doctors, nurses and other health workers, but in their management, performance and geographical distribution.

These shortfalls are particularly glaring in light of the global movement for universal health coverage, progress toward which will require a high-functioning workforce.

This month’s third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, which convened global health policymakers in Recife, Brazil, trumpeted the need for political commitment to health workforce strengthening. With UHC a top priority of conference sponsors like the World Health Organization, conference discussions were framed as seeking solutions—such as improving retention and performance, or health workers’ advocacy—“toward UHC.”

 {Photo credit: Ben Greenberg/MSH}Priya Bery and Professor Peter Anyang’ Nyong’OPhoto credit: Ben Greenberg/MSH

Earlier this month, on November 5, at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, MSH held a special event: a photography exhibition and global health discussion, moderated by Tom Ashbrook of NPR's On Point. The photos on display were by the 2012 MSH photography fellows who documented our life-saving work in Africa with people at all levels of the health system—from households to health workers to doctors and nurses to government officials and ministers of health. 

Tom Ashbrook led our panelists in a discussion of their visions for a world where everyone has the opportunity for a healthy life. The panelists were:

 {Photo credit: Yvonne Otieno/MSH}Josephine Mbiyu of the USAID-funded LMS project discusses the localization of leadership for strengthening health systems in MSH Kenya projects.Photo credit: Yvonne Otieno/MSH

Effective leaders and institutions are the foundations of strong health institutions.

~ Dr. Daraus Bukenya, MSH country representative of Kenya

The Management Sciences for Health Kenya country office hosted a panel discussion on leadership at the Devex Partnerships Forum held in Nairobi. This was a unique opportunity for the over 120 participants who attended the session to discuss practical examples of how leadership translates to better health outcomes within and beyond the panel session. The right to health, efficiency in delivery of services, leadership training, and informed decision-making emerged as key themes during the panel discussion. Some of the key questions raised during the session included:

{Photo by Warren Zelman.}Photo by Warren Zelman.

This post also appeared on Gates Foundation's Impatient Optimists Blog and on Frontline Health Workers Coalition's website.

In a week and a half, as a team of our colleagues arrive in Ethiopia for this year’s International Conference on Family Planning, others will already be in Brazil for the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health. This year’s HRH Forum addresses universal health coverage (UHC), a concept which continues to gain momentum as the focus of global health efforts from institutions like the World Bank and World Health Organization (WHO).

It’s symbolic that these two meetings are happening half a world apart: as movements around family planning, health workforce and UHC have advanced, there has been too little dialogue and collaboration across these communities.

{Photo credit: Rui Pires}Photo credit: Rui Pires

A global movement toward universal health coverage (UHC) is emerging. Fifteen global civil society organizations signed a statement urging UN countries to include UHC in post-Millennium Development goals (MDGs).

Devex.com features a video interview with MSH President and CEO Dr. Jonathan D. Quick at the Clinton Global Initiative. Eliza Villarino writes:

For some, universal health coverage is a remote vision. The idea, according to Management Sciences for Health President and CEO Jonathan Quick, is actually not that far-fetched.

Universal health coverage refers to the commitment of countries to provide basic health, prevention and treatment services to all their citizens without financially burdening them. Today, 50 countries, including 20 lower-middlie-income countries offer such coverage, Quick noted in an exclusive interview with Devex on the sidelines of the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative annual gathering in New York.

"I think the biggest thing that’s happening right now that affects health systems is the movement toward universal health coverage," Quick said.

He also explained why investment in global health is one of the best ways to improve U.S. image abroad and security at home. How?

 {Photo credit: Paula Champagne/MSH}Jeffrey Sachs speaking at "A Healthy Future for All: Making UHC a Post-2015 Priority".Photo credit: Paula Champagne/MSH

After last Monday’s event launching a report on equity in universal health coverage (UHC), I observed that the global UHC movement can gain broader support by refining its messages to connect with the core values of civil society and provide reassurance that UHC is feasible for low-income countries. It was clear after last Tuesday’s event in New York—hosted by MSH, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Thai UN mission—that to gain support among disease-specific advocates in post-2015 discussions, the UHC movement must also clarify how a UHC goal would relate to disease-specific priorities in the new development framework.

Put another way: what exactly would UHC cover as a post-2015 goal?

 {Photo credit: Todd Shapera}Emanuel Bizimungu, a community health worker in eastern Rwanda, examines a girl.Photo credit: Todd Shapera

As the United Nations General Assembly kicks off general debate on the post-2015 development agenda this week, advocates of a universal health coverage (UHC) target are rallying other organizations to build and showcase support around UHC. These efforts include high-profile events on Monday and Tuesday, both hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation with partner support. On Wednesday, Johnson & Johnson hosted an event on the key role of frontline health workers to efforts like these. This post, which originally appeared on The Lancet Global Health Blog, is part of a "Rallying for UHC" series: MSH bloggers expanding on the themes raised by these events and considering the road ahead for UHC in post-2015 discussions. Readers can participate by adding comments on the blog posts, or joining the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag.  

 {Photo credit: Paula Champagne/MSH}MSH President Dr. Jonathan D. Quick moderates the panel.Photo credit: Paula Champagne/MSH

As the United Nations General Assembly kicks off general debate on the post-2015 development agenda, MSH, Rockefeller Foundation, and the Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations hosted a standing-room only event rallying organizations around making universal health coverage (UHC) a post-2015 priority. "A Healthy Future For All: Making Universal Health Coverage a Post-2015 Priority" was one of two high-profile events hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation with partner support. Watch the webcast recording and view the photo slideshow of "A Healthy Future for All".

{Photo credit: Pan American Health Organization}Photo credit: Pan American Health Organization

As the United Nations General Assembly kicks off general debate on the post-2015 development agenda this week, advocates of a universal health coverage (UHC) target are rallying other organizations to build and showcase support around UHC. These efforts include high-profile events on Monday and Tuesday, both hosted by the Rockefeller Foundation with partner support. On Wednesday, Johnson & Johnson hosts an event on the key role of frontline health workers to efforts like these. 

In a three-part series, MSH bloggers expand on the themes raised by these events and consider the road ahead for UHC in post-2015 discussions. Readers can participate through their organizations—which can sign on to a joint letter to UN Member States supporting a post-2015 UHC target—or as individuals: by urging their organizations to sign the joint letter, adding comments on this blog post, or on Twitter with the hashtag.  

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