Universal Health Coverage

Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

Ghana. {Photo credit: Rui Pires}Photo credit: Rui Pires

Modern medicines, vaccines, and other health technologies have revolutionized health care. Yet these products haven’t improved lives everywhere, often because health systems haven’t made them accessible and affordable. In many developing countries, where health systems still rely heavily on out-of-pocket expenditure, patients face high costs at the point of service. Some people forgo necessary care; others endure financial hardship or even impoverishment. A majority of out-of-pocket spending goes towards medicines.

{Photo credit: MSH}Photo credit: MSH

This post originally appeared on Devex.com.

The Afghan health system was in shambles after the Taliban government was chased from power in December 2001. Immunization rates had fallen below 20 percent and nine out of ten women were on their own for labor and delivery. Suhaila Seddiqi, newly appointed as public health minister, could have begun her tenure with highly visible and politically popular moves like building hospitals in the major cities. She didn’t. Instead, she led the development of a basic package of essential primary care services and coordinated its delivery to Afghans throughout the country, including remote rural areas. It worked. By 2010, twice as many Afghans had access to family planning, maternal deaths were down by two thirds, and reductions in child mortality had saved 150,000 lives.

Did you notice that our website looks and feels really different?

We've redesigned and rebuilt our site from the ground up: showcasing our unique technical expertise and staff, values, global footprint, and mission to save lives and improve health among the poorest and most vulnerable around the world. 

We also have integrated our Global Health Impact blog into the website to continue cutting-edge discussions on global health.  

And we've made the new MSH.org easier to use.     

Learn more about the new MSH.org

Watch the short video -- and see some of the new features firsthand:

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

The May issue of the MSH Global Health Impact newsletter (subscribe) features stories on gender equity, UHC, and family planning including:

A girl in the Democratic Republic of Congo {Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

All involved with women’s health and gender wish that access to quality health care for women and girls was easy to achieve at scale. But the attitudes and expectations of many societies limit women’s and girls’ access to resources and skills associated with better health. And health-related vulnerabilities and poor outcomes for women and girls have social and financial costs that hamper the consistency and quality of available health services. 

To advocate for universal health coverage (UHC), and help countries achieve this worthy goal, health leaders, managers, and those who govern must work to end social biases and gender-based discrimination--whether deliberate or unintended. 

Among other things, health leaders must support the hiring and promotion of women; advocate for gender-sensitive employment and working conditions; help to reduce women’s out-of-pocket healthcare payments (that are generally higher than men’s due in part to the high costs of newborn deliveries and reproductive health services); adjust clinic hours to accommodate women and girls’ mobility constraints; and consider how even unexpected health provider bias can make female clients hesitate to seek the services they need in a timely fashion. 

{Photo credit: Dominic Chavez}Photo credit: Dominic Chavez

(This post has also appeared on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation blog, Impatient Optimists and on the blog of the Frontline Health Workers Coalition.)

Our MSH colleague Lucy Sakala was an HIV counselor in Malawi. She worked with clients who were receiving HIV tests. When clients were diagnosed HIV positive, many were eligible for treatment and could begin antiretroviral therapy. HIV care had become available in Malawi because of transformative efforts to reduce ARV prices and increase their availability, such as the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria.

In a couple of days, thousands of decision-makers, leaders, advocates, health professionals, media, and more will gather to focus on our most valuable investment: women and girls.

We are honored to be a Gold Sponsor and Advisory Group member of Women Deliver 2013. Over 30 staff members representing 10 countries will participate in the conference by speaking, moderating, leading, and learning together with the 5,000 attendees in Kuala Lumpur.

For over 40 years, MSH has worked shoulder-to-shoulder in partnership with over 150 countries---currently in over 65---saving lives and improving the health of women, girls, men, and boys. Our programs empower women; sensitize men; and integrate maternal, newborn, and child health, family planning and reproductive health, and HIV & AIDS services to improve access to quality care and, ultimately, save lives.

Photo credit: Sara Lewis/GAVI Alliance.

The field of global health is changing, with interest in a new era of multi-stakeholder involvement, chronic non-communicable diseases, health system strengthening, and universal health coverage.

The 66th World Health Assembly, the primary decision-making body of the World Health Organization (WHO), will consider these critical topics for addressing the health-related post-2015 development goals at its upcoming meeting in Geneva (May 20 to 28).

Join us --- the Global Health Council, Anheuser-Busch InBev, the Center for Global Health and Diplomacy, and Management Sciences for Health (MSH) --- in person or virtually, for a panel discussion on May 21 on how the global health community is responding to shifting health priorities, and what’s working—and what’s not—in the way we approach health delivery.

DRC. {Photo credit: Warren Zelman}Photo credit: Warren Zelman

Millions of girls in developing nations will avoid getting a deadly form of cancer---cervical cancer---due to a major drop in costs for two vaccines against cervical cancer. Merck and GlaxoSmithKline announced May 9 that costs for the vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV) would be cut to below $5 per dose.

Over 275,000 women die from cervical cancer per year in poor countries.

Merck’s Gardasil vaccine will cost $4.50 per dose and GlaxoSmithKline’s Cervarix will cost $4.60 per dose. The costs were negotiated through the GAVI Alliance (see infographic).

This is welcome news, with cancers and other chronic diseases becoming one of global health’s biggest challenges, moving towards the post-Millennium Development Goals era.

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