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{Photo credit: MSH staff, South Africa}Photo credit: MSH staff, South Africa

This post, first published on The Huffington Post, is part 5 in the MSH series on improving the health of the poorest and most vulnerable women, children, and communities by prioritizing prevention and preparing health systems for epidemics. Join the conversation online with hashtag .

Struck with a prolonged and worsening illness, Faith, a 37-year-old Nairobi woman raising her two children, sought help from local clinics. She came away each time with no diagnosis and occasionally an absurdly useless packet of antihistamines. Finally, a friend urged her to get an HIV test. When it came back positive, Faith wanted to kill herself, and got hold of a poison.

All epidemics arise from weak health systems, like the one that failed to serve Faith. Where people are poor and health systems are under-resourced, diseases like AIDS, Yellow Fever, Ebola, TB, Zika, Malaria, steadily march the afflicted to an early grave, decimating families, communities and economies along the way.

 {Photo credit: Ness Kerton / AusAID / DfAT / CC BY}A health worker and a patient in a treatment room at the Susa Mama health clinic in Papua New Guinea. The global collaboration on universal health coverage can’t wind down but must be ramped up.Photo credit: Ness Kerton / AusAID / DfAT / CC BY

Today is Universal Health Coverage Day (UHC Day). All week, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) staff blogged about universal health coverage (UHC) and why we support health for all this week. 

This post originally appeared in Devex.

Universal health coverage is coming to the world’s developing countries.

 {Photo credit: MSH/#ToastUHC photo booth/RH}Yvonne Chaka Chaka (center) with members of the UN Mission from Japan (including Toshihisa Nakamura and Masaki Inasa), and Sumie Ishii of JOICFP.Photo credit: MSH/#ToastUHC photo booth/RH

Experience "A Toast to Universal Health Coverage" () through photos and tweets in this Storify story . (Storify is a social media tool for curating digital content, such as photos, videos, links, and tweets.) You can also view the complete Photo album: " Photo Booth" on Facebook. (Share and tag these photos via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or your favorite social media channel, using hashtag .)

 {Photo credit: Todd Shapera.}Mother and daughter at Kigali Hospital, Rwanda.Photo credit: Todd Shapera.

What do the next 500 days mean for global health?

The looming deadline of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will prompt a final push to achieve the health targets that have helped guide the global community since 2000: to reduce maternal and child mortality, provide contraception and curb the HIV, TB and malaria epidemics. Undoubtedly, many people will benefit from vital health services in the next 500 days.    

But many others won’t, and they’re likely to be the people who are already most vulnerable and least served. For example, as maternal deaths have dropped in developing countries, deaths are more concentrated in poor regions; the HIV epidemic still rages in marginalized populations like sex workers and people who use drugs. A key lesson of the MDG era is that nothing contributes to illness more than poverty and exclusion.

In the next 500 days, therefore, many voices will be calling for a new approach to global health in the post-2015 development framework. It’s a dramatic reinvention around a simple idea: that everyone, everywhere, should have affordable access to the health services they need.

 {Photo credit: Brooke Huskey/MSH.}Photo credit: Brooke Huskey/MSH.

This post is part of our Global Health Impact series on the 67th World Health Assembly (" href="http://www.msh.org/blog-tags/wha67">WHA67), held in Geneva, May 18-24, 2014. This year, MSH co-hosted three side events focusing on the role of universal health coverage (May 20), chronic diseases (May 20), and governance for health (May 21) in the post-2015 framework. Six MSH representatives attended WHA as part of the 60-plus-person Global Health Council (GHC) delegation.

 {Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH}Gloria Sangiwa (left), MSH Senior Director of Technical Quality and Innovation and Global Technical Lead on Chronic Diseases, talks with another delegate at the Global Health Council (GHC) welcome reception.Photo credit: Crystal Lander/MSH

This blog post is part of our Global Health Impact series on the 67th World Health Assembly in Geneva, May 18-24, 2014. MSH is co-hosting three side events focusing on the role of universal health coverage (May 20), chronic diseases (May 20), and governance for health (May 21) in the post-2015 framework. This year, six MSH representatives are attending WHA as part of the 60-plus-person Global Health Council (GHC) delegation.

Sunday was my first day in Geneva for the World Health Assembly (WHA). I attended WHA last year for the first time, and I am feeling a bit like a second-year college student.

As I prepared for this year’s meeting, a few colleagues asked me: Why is the WHA so important to global health policy? Who attends these things and why? I instantly responded to the questions somewhat defensively: "It’s the WHA--that’s why!"

 {Photo credit: Jonathan Jay/MSH.}Dr. Jonathan D. Quick discusses the way forward for UHC with Ariel Pablos-Méndez of USAID (far right), Gina Lagomarsino of Results for Development (center), and Tim Evans of World Bank (second to left). Nellie Bristol of CSIS (far left) moderates.Photo credit: Jonathan Jay/MSH.

"Health care is a right for everyone -- rich or poor."

~ Jim Yong Kim in opening keynote at

SmartGlobalHealth.org " href="https://twitter.com/SmartGlblHealth/status/423100667532566528">notified viewers that technical difficulties would prevent a live webcast; but organizations and individuals tweeting provided realtime coverage of today's "Universal Health Coverage in Emerging Economies" conference at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS).

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

MSH President & CEO Dr. Quick on 9:30 AM panel; Watch webcast below

Hosted by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), the one-day conference, "Universal Health Coverage in Emerging Economies," will feature Jim Yong Kim of the World Bank and other high-level panelists examining how universal health coverage (UHC) could improve health in low- and middle-income countries while preserving economic gains.

MSH President and CEO Dr. Jonathan D. Quick will join Ariel Pablos-Méndez of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), Gina Lagomarsino of Results for Development, and Tim Evans of World Bank, for a 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. roundtable, moderated by Nellie Bristol of CSIS. Kim will give the opening keynote; Nils Daulaire of the US Department of Health and Human Services will address attendees during lunch.

{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 by Warren Zelman.}Photo by Warren Zelman.

This post also appeared on Gates Foundation's Impatient Optimists Blog and on Frontline Health Workers Coalition's website.

In a week and a half, as a team of our colleagues arrive in Ethiopia for this year’s International Conference on Family Planning, others will already be in Brazil for the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health. This year’s HRH Forum addresses universal health coverage (UHC), a concept which continues to gain momentum as the focus of global health efforts from institutions like the World Bank and World Health Organization (WHO).

It’s symbolic that these two meetings are happening half a world apart: as movements around family planning, health workforce and UHC have advanced, there has been too little dialogue and collaboration across these communities.

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