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 {Photo credit: Alan Levine via Flickr / CC BY}Vials of insulin. Diabetes medicines and health technologies, including lifesaving insulin, are available in only one in three of the world’s poorest countries.Photo credit: Alan Levine via Flickr / CC BY

Cross-posted with permission from Devex.com.

The World Health Organization’s first global report on diabetes released this month highlights the disease’s “alarming surge” with rates that have quadrupled in fewer than three decades. The report reminds us that essential diabetes medicines and health technologies, including lifesaving insulin, are available in only one in three of the world’s poorest countries.

Availability of medicines is certainly an important piece of the complex challenge of ensuring that health systems seamlessly integrate prevention, screening, referral, treatment, and adherence. However, choosing the best way to spend limited public health budgets amid competing priorities is equally important.

{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: Warren Zelman, Democratic Republic of the Congo}Photo credit: Warren Zelman, Democratic Republic of the Congo

This post originally appeared on the Frontline Health Workers Coalition blog.

I grew up in a village in northwestern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and although I’m now a doctor and live in Kinshasa, I remember those days well.

I know what it’s like to live 23 kilometers from the nearest health center and to navigate forests and floods to get there. I know how a lack of something simple like antibiotics can cause a quick death. I’ve lost many peers from the village over the years and a lot of family members.

In fact, that’s why I became a physician.

 #Action2015.

More mothers and children under five are surviving, but progress is "uneven across regions and countries, leaving significant gaps", the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon confirmed today, July 6, launching the final Millennium Development Goals Report (2015). Child under-five mortality has been cut in half since 1990 (reduced from 90 to 43 deaths per 1,000 live births) and maternal mortality has been reduced 45 percent -- with much of the reduction occuring since 2000.

According to the UN press release:

Targeted investments in fighting diseases, such as HIV/AIDs and malaria, have brought unprecedented results. Over 6.2 million malaria deaths were averted between 2000 and 2015, while tuberculosis prevention, diagnosis and treatment interventions saved an estimated 37 million lives between 2000 and 2013.

Worldwide, 2.1 billion have gained access to improved sanitation and the proportion of people practicing open defecation has fallen almost by half since 1990.

{Photo credit: Anteneh Tesfaye Lemma/MSH.}Photo credit: Anteneh Tesfaye Lemma/MSH.

Meeting my predecessor

There he was: Kenaw! I was seeing him in person for the first time. Kenaw is a friendly guy; we greeted like we’d known each other awhile. I hear from my Health for All: Campaign for Universal Health Coverage in Africa (Health for All) colleagues that he was wonderful to work with and got along with almost everyone in the office within a few weeks of arriving. Although I hadn't had the opportunity to work with him, I sprinted from the foundation he laid to further the campaign’s activities as I joined MSH and Health for All in January 2013.

{Photo: Mark Tuschman, Kenya}Photo: Mark Tuschman, Kenya

This post originally appeared as part of the Woman-Centered Universal Health Coverage Series, hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force (MHTF) and USAID|TRAction, which discusses the importance of utilizing a woman-centered agenda to operationalize universal health coverage. To contribute a post to MHTF's series, please contact Katie Millar.

Who is accountable for the young woman dying during childbirth in a hospital in Lusaka, Zambia? For the woman in a health center in Bugiri in Uganda? For the girl child in a rural home in Uttar Pradesh, India? In a shanty town in Tegucigalpa, Honduras? Who is accountable for the women and adolescent girls in a thousand places everywhere?

 {Photo credit: Fred Hartman/MSH}Billboard, Liberia.Photo credit: Fred Hartman/MSH

[Universal Health Coverage Day.]Universal Health Coverage Day.Management Sciences for Health (MSH) bloggers are discussing universal health coverage (UHC) and why we support health for all this week, leading up to Dec. 12, UHC Day. MSH is a founding member of the UHC Day coalition. Today, MSH authors Chelsey Canavan, Jonathan Jay, and Dr. Jonathan D. Quick discuss if, and how, UHC could help prevent major outbreaks, like the current Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.

This post originally appeared on Devex.

Dec. 12, marks Universal Health Coverage Day, the second anniversary of a United Nations resolution endorsing UHC as a global priority. The last two years have seen a growing consensus that pursuing UHC will save lives and alleviate poverty, especially in developing countries.

Meanwhile, the devastating Ebola crisis continues to claim lives and stifle opportunity in West Africa. Observers were quick to note that UHC could have helped arrest the spread of Ebola, yet countries like Nigeria, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo — all quite early on their paths toward UHC — have successfully contained Ebola outbreaks.

So is UHC really the answer?

Ebola shows us that more resources must go toward public health infrastructure. That’s an important lesson for UHC reforms, which could easily overlook those investments in favor of individual health services. UHC strategies can’t rest on individual service delivery to mitigate major health threats. When we imagine UHC, we should see institutions and organizations actively promoting the public’s health—long before the need for emergency response.

 {Photo credit: Anteneh Lemma/MSH}The Health for All Campaign in Kenya is hosting a series of debates on universal health coverage.Photo credit: Anteneh Lemma/MSH

“I wish I had called this event,” said Mr. Simone Ole Kirgotty, CEO of Kenyan National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). This came as a surprise to many since the CEO was bombarded with critical questions and comments about the activities of the organization he has been leading for the last two years. “If it was new for me to lead such a controversial organization, I would have run away after all these comments,” added Mr. Kirgotty cheerfully.

It was during a public debate in Nairobi, organized by the Health for All: Campaign for Universal Health Coverage in Africa (Health for All Campaign), that the CEO of Kenya NHIF made these remarks. The debate, entitled: “Improving Communications to Scale up Public Engagement with NHIF: Challenges and Prospects,” was part of a series of debates being conducted in seven counties in Kenya. As highlighted by Dr. Daraus Bukenya, Country Representative for MSH Kenya, the major objective of the debates is to get clarity on NHIF activities, to create a platform for community engagement, and to identify and put together recommendations to NHIF to work toward universal health coverage in Kenya. The first debate was held on November 17, 2014 in Nyeri.

 {Photo credit: Warren Zelman.}A health worker speaks with a woman and her baby outside a clinic in Ethiopia. Gestational diabetes occurs when a woman develops high blood sugar during pregnancy.Photo credit: Warren Zelman.

This post originally appeared on Devex on November 14, World Diabetes Day ().

During her third pregnancy, Eden Bihon visited the Mekelle Health Center in Tigray, Ethiopia. Although a routine prenatal visit, it held great importance for Eden, as she had recently lost her second child, who died from unknown causes at the age of just one year.

Unknown to her at the time, this visit would have lasting implications for Eden and her baby. A 23-year-old mother, Eden, like most Ethiopian women, had concerns about her pregnancy and well-being. But gestational diabetes was not one of them.

Devex #Healthymeans graphic.
On October 27, Devex launched , a month-long online campaign to raise awareness about global health challenges and opportunities. Throughout the month of November, Devex and partners are encouraging discussion around the question: What does healthy mean to you?

Join Nov. 13, 1 pm EST with hashtags  and

On November 13, MSH () and partners are leading a Twitter chat from 1:00-1:30 pm EST on "Maximizing Global Health Synergies in Post-2015 Era". Led by Jonathan Jay (), guest-tweeting with , we'll discuss:
  1. What health target or outcome is your top priority for the post-2015 era?

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