Rockefeller Foundation

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

This post originally appeared on The Lancet Global Health Blog.

A strong civil society is essential for realizing the lofty goal of achieving universal health coverage (UHC). While the ongoing global discussions around UHC have largely focused on the role of government and development partners in designing and implementing risk pooling mechanisms that have the potential to improve access to essential health services, there has been little discussion on the key role that local civil society organizations (CSOs) play to ensure various communities support UHC and hold governments accountable.

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

“A world where everyone has the opportunity for a healthy life.” This is MSH’s vision, guiding our efforts every day to save lives and improve health among the poorest and most vulnerable populations. In 2014, universal health coverage (UHC) will play a pivotal role in helping us attain this vision.  MSH has vigorously supported UHC because we’re committed to the human right to health, deeply embedded in UHC, and because it’s the only approach that transforms health systems to mobilize all available resources towards the affordable, quality health services that people need.

 {Photo credit: Anteneh Tesfaye Lemma/MSH.}Producing a TV spot on social health insurance in Ethiopia.Photo credit: Anteneh Tesfaye Lemma/MSH.

It was sudden and unexpected. It was also funny: the ball exploded and deflated right under Teferi's foot. But everybody started to worry when the director screamed: “We can’t shoot the next scene without the football! Somebody get me a new one!”

I looked at the young boy actor. Tears were about to wash his gloomy face as the ball changed into a useless piece of flat plastic right before his cloudy eyes. "This is bad!" I said to myself. "The kid might not be willing to act anymore; we might be forced to start the production all over again!"

We were shooting one of the scenes for a TV public service announcement. Producing the TV spot is one of the major activities for the Health for All Campaign–the campaign supporting the popularization of Ethiopia’s New Health Insurance Scheme.

It was ironic: the TV spot promotes preparing for unforeseen emergencies. Yet, once the ball became useless, we realized that we were not ready for an emergency ourselves.

{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: 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: 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.  

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.

Dr. Jonathan Quick, President and CEO of MSH, tours with Dr. Christian Nzitimira, director of Kibagabaga Hospital in Rwanda. {Photo credit: Jon Jay/MSH.}Photo credit: Jon Jay/MSH.

In a postoperative ward of Kibagabaga Hospital, the district hospital serving Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali, Eric Bizimana sits up in bed. Bizimana, 25, had sought care after severe pain in his right leg forced him to stop work as a barber. He was diagnosed with a bone infection called osteomyelitis. Antibiotics alone couldn’t clear the infection. Without an operation to remove the diseased bone, Eric faced the possibility of losing his leg.

Eric was one of the 40 patients who enter Kibagabaga for surgery every day. In Rwanda’s tiered healthcare delivery system, patients are referred from local health centers up to the district hospital when their conditions require more complex care. Most babies are delivered at health centers, for example, but a woman suffering complications or who was expected to need a C-section would be referred to the district level.

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