Universal Health Coverage

Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

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

In 2012, the United Nations unanimously passed a resolution endorsing the concept of universal health coverage (UHC), urging governments everywhere to “provide all people with access to affordable, quality health care services”. Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and the US Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Systems for Improved Access to Pharmaceuticals and Services (SIAPS) Program are among global champions for UHC and joined global leaders celebrating UHC’s notable inclusion in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) last Fall. Now, we continue to help countries face the obstacles of making UHC a reality.

Access to medicines has not always been at the forefront of the global discourse on UHC, which instead has tended to focus on financing. UHC programs must include adequate health financing and coverage of essential medicines if they are to deliver meaningful health outcomes. Policymakers attempting to establish and maintain UHC programs therefore need to have a sound understanding of the pharmaceutical sector and those pharmaceutical system components that must be considered to ensure ready access to the pharmaceuticals needed to support any UHC program.

 {Photo credit: Brigid Boettler/MSH}Expert panelists discuss MDR-TB (from left): Joshua Michaud, Kaiser Family Foundation; Alexander Golubkov, USAID; Muluken Melese, MSH, Ethiopia; and Kenneth Mutesasira, MSH, Uganda.Photo credit: Brigid Boettler/MSH

“When we started our project in 2011, there was no system in place to identify multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB),” explained Muluken Melese, project director for the Help Ethiopia Address the Low Tuberculosis Performance (HEAL TB) project. However, since then, the five-year USAID-funded project, implemented by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), has expanded access to TB services to over half the population of Ethiopia and led a 15-fold increase in the number of MDR-TB patients on treatment.

 {Photo credit: Matt Martin/MSH}About 20 of the nearly 30 MSH staff attending the 4th annual ICFP gather for the opening ceremony.Photo credit: Matt Martin/MSH

Three weeks ago, nearly 3,500 family planning researchers, program managers, and policymakers came together in Nusa Dua, Indonesia to discuss the latest research findings and best practices on family planning at the 4th International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP). It was the largest gathering of family planning enthusiasts to date.

Nearly 30 MSH staff from 8 countries attended ICFP, showcasing our health systems expertise and experiences in family planning.

 {Photo: Sarah McKee/MSH}Youth delegates close out the 4th ICFP in song on January 28, 2016.Photo: Sarah McKee/MSH

A version of this post originally appeared on USAID's Leadership, Management & Governance (LMG) project blog. Nearly 30 staff from Management Sciences for Health (MSH), including several from LMG, participated in the fourth International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP), January 25-28, 2016, in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, which called for "Global Commitments, Local Actions.” The conference was co-hosted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the National Population and Family Planning Board of Indonesia (BKKBN).

 {Photo: Matt Martin/MSH}(from left) Jonathan D. Quick, President & CEO, MSH, moderates the UHC and family planning (FP) access and accountability conversation with panelists: Chris Baryomunsi, Minister of Health, Uganda; Tira Aswitama, National Program Associate for RH and FP, UNFPA Indonesia; Kayode Afolabi, Director Reproductive Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria; Beth Schlachter, Executive Director, FP2020; John Skibiak, Director, RHSC; Melissa Wanda, Advocacy Officer, MSH Kenya.Photo: Matt Martin/MSH

Post updated February 19, 2016.

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and universal access to sexual and reproductive health services figure prominently in the Sustainable Development Goals. So it is not surprising that The International Conference on Family Planning (ICFP) maintained important focus on these topics, including through the Management Sciences for Health (MSH) auxiliary event, “Universal Access to Family Planning and Reproductive Health: Who’s Accountable in the Post-2015 Era?” on January 27. Co-sponsored by the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC) and Family Planning 2020 (FP2020), the event featured an illustrious group of panelists giving their perspectives on UHC, while exploring the intersection of health financing policy and accountability as countries move into universal access for family planning.

Jonathan D. Quick, MD, MPH, President and CEO of MSH, moderated the conversation and perhaps stated it best: “Now, more than ever, it is clear that getting family planning into national policies is critical.” 

 {Photo: MSH/Ashleigh Cooper}Panelists (from left) Jemal Mohammed, Director, Leadership Management and Governance Project, MSH; Tarek Rabah, Area Vice President, Middle East and Africa, Astra-Zeneca; and H.E. Dr. Kestebirhan Admasu, Minister of Health, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; and moderator Jeffrey Sturchio, CEO, Rabin Martin; at the Future of Health in Africa session.Photo: MSH/Ashleigh Cooper

Management Sciences for Health (MSH) joined more than 1,000 attendees, including global and local businesses and governments, at the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA)’s 10th Biennial US-Africa Business Summit, hosted in partnership with the African Union and the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, in Addis Ababa, this week. Established in 1993 to promote business and investment between the US and nations of Africa, CCA serves as a neutral, trusted intermediary connecting its members with essential government and business leaders. MSH joined the CCA as a member for the first time this year. Representatives from MSH Ethiopia and the US attended the summit.

Healthcare is growing and changing rapidly in Africa, and the demand for quality healthcare is creating opportunities for business investment and engagement. The Summit's Health track focused on the transition from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals; how public/private partnerships between businesses, NGOs, and governments can address the challenges and opportunities; and the importance of building resilient health systems and healthy workforces.  

{Photo: Gwenn Dubourthournieu}Photo: Gwenn Dubourthournieu

For the fourth year in a row, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) invited staff to submit stories about how health systems save lives and improve the health of the poorest and most vulnerable worldwide. MSH staff from 34 projects submitted over 50 stories from 2015. These 12 stories, selected by MSH staff judges, demonstrate how good storytelling and effective partnerships can save more lives.

In this special edition of our Global Health Impact Newsletter (subscribe), meet health workers, community leaders, pharmacy managers, beneficiaries working together toward healthier communities. Stories and authors appear alphabetically by country:

An Accredited Medicines Stores (AMS) seller receives an infrared thermometer to use in Ebola and other outbreak surveillance.

by Arthur Loryoun

Editor's note: This post originally appeared on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's blog, Impatient Optimists. Funded by the Gates Foundation and led by Management Sciences for Health (MSH), the Sustainable Drug Sellers Initiative (SDSI) project worked to ensure the sustainability of public-private drug seller initiatives in Tanzania and Uganda, and to roll-out the initiative in Liberia.

MSH's Douglas Keene, PharmD, MHS, Vice President, Pharmaceuticals & Health Technologies Group, was among the speakers at a recent event in Basel, Switzerland, hosted by Novartis, with representatives from NGOs, academia, and government discussing how to expand access to health in developing countries, including through the newly-launched program, Novartis Access.

MSH is partnering on Novartis Access to help empower governments of low- and lower-middle-income countries to provide access to health for chronic diseases patients who need it most. Ensuring affordable and equitable access to medicines is critical to achieving health for all -- and central to MSH's mission and health-systems strengthening approach.

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

December 12 marks the second annual global Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day, and what a year it has been.

Through legal reform and new programs, many countries — like Burkina Faso and Iran — have made important progress on the path to UHC. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) announced in September reinforced the world's commitment to UHC; the third SDG calls for "good health and well-being" and includes a target of achieving universal health coverage.

Now that goals and targets have been set, indicators to track progress are being agreed upon, and we must focus on the implementation, monitoring and accountability of these goals. Accountability — encompassing the interconnected functions of monitoring, review, and remedial action — is imperative to guiding implementation and accelerating progress across the SDGs.

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