universal health coverage

{A woman at provincial health services department in Sri Lanka. (Photo Credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank)}A woman at provincial health services department in Sri Lanka. (Photo Credit: Simone D. McCourtie/World Bank)

This article was originally published on Devex on November 18, 2016

As finance advisers in global health, we are regularly in conversations with health ministers in low- and middle-income countries who have been charged with the commendable but daunting task of achieving universal health coverage for their citizens.

In other words, they must ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them, with special emphasis on serving the poor and disadvantaged. Our conversations often boil down to some key questions: How much will it cost, who will pay, and how do we ensure that funds are used effectively and responsibly?

{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.

{Photo Credit: Sara Holtz/MSH}Photo Credit: Sara Holtz/MSH

As the world begins working toward the newly developed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ensuring access to reproductive health supplies must be considered.

More than 100 countries are in the process of adopting or advancing universal health coverage (UHC) mechanisms to achieve the targets set for Goal 3, which calls for “good health and well-being.”

Despite the momentum, 400 million people lack access to at least one of seven life-saving health services. And in 2012, an estimated 222 million women lacked access to effective family planning. FP2020’s goal of enabling 120 million women and girls to use modern contraception requires countries to include sexual and reproductive health services and supplies when discussing health benefits packages under national insurance laws, policies, and other related UHC efforts. Moreover, marginalized populations should be prioritized for free or subsidized care.

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

The universal health coverage (UHC) movement has reached a turning point. With an unprecedented coalition of global partners rallying behind the UHC movement, the inclusion of UHC as a key aim of the newly launched sustainable development goals, and growing recognition of health as a human right, the real work of achieving UHC has begun – many countries are now grappling with the challenge of making UHC a reality.

As a key partner in bringing the UHC agenda to the forefront of the global community MSH is on the leading edge of translating this global momentum into tangible gains for women, children, and families at the country level. This UHC Day, MSH is working to advance by recognizing that UHC means that people should have access to not only the health services they need, but also to the essential medicines and heath commodities that help to treat many of the most serious global health threats.

Ensuring equitable and affordable access to medicines is a key component of achieving UHC, but one that is often left out of the conversation. As many low- and middle-income countries start implementing a range of UHC policies, programs, and initiatives, MSH is taking steps to ensure that access to medicines remains on the agenda.

 {Photo credit: MSH Ethiopia.}Panelists at the UHC symposium (from left): Jonathan D. Quick (MSH), Mr. Amsalu Shiferaw (WHO), Dr. Yayehyirad, (independent health scholar), Prof. Damen (Addis Ababa University).Photo credit: MSH Ethiopia.

It came as a surprise to many attending the symposium—health insurance in Ethiopia had been talked about in the media for a while, but most didn’t know the preparations had gone this far. It was at a high level session that the Acting Director General of the Ethiopian Health Insurance Agency, Dr. Mengistu Bekele, explained the work the government has been doing to start the implementation of the twin health insurance schemes. Dr. Mengistu indicated the government’s effort to introduce the health insurance scheme is part of its move towards achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC). “Of course it can be done!” said Dr. Mengistu reaffirming the commitment and tying up his presentation with the theme of the symposium: “Achieving UHC in low- and middle-income countries: Can it be done?”

A Rwandese woman shows her child's community-based health insurance card. {Photo credit: C. T. Ngoc/MSH.}Photo credit: C. T. Ngoc/MSH.

Last week, the 67th United Nations General Assembly adopted a historic resolution that emphasizes universal health coverage (UHC) in the global health and foreign policy work of the UN and Member States in the coming year.

Health for All.Health for All.

The October edition of MSH's Global Health Impact newsletter (subscribe), features stories of people, communities, and countries on the road toward universal health coverage (UHC).

The vital role of the essential package for health impact

On the Road to Universal Health Coverage: The Vital Role of the Essential Package for Health Impact

Devex interviews MSH President & CEO Dr. Jonathan D. Quick at the Clinton Global Initiative 2012. {Photo credit: Devex.}Photo credit: Devex.

Devex interviews MSH President & CEO Dr. Jonathan D. Quick at the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting.

"The last decade has been a stunning decade for global health. If you look at what's been achieved in AIDS, TB, malaria, --- less so in family planning, but still progress --- it's been an amazing decade," says MSH President & CEO Dr. Jonathan D. Quick in an interview with Devex.

UHC Forward website (UHCForward.org)UHC Forward website (UHCForward.org)

Cross-posted from the UHC Forward blog

To support the efforts of countries that have committed to making substantive universal health coverage reforms, experts in many areas of financial protection must continually share in dialogue and debate.

To this end, the Results for Development Institute, in partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation, is pleased to announce the launch of UHC Forward, a new website that tracks and consolidates key health coverage information from hundreds of sources into a one-stop portal with feature news, events, and publications related to the growing global universal health coverage (UHC) movement.

Pages

Printer Friendly Version
Subscribe to RSS - universal health coverage