Universal Health Coverage

Universal Health Coverage (UHC)
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Because everyone deserves the opportunity for a healthy life.

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

MSH's current newsletter (November/December 2013) features stories about the people on the frontlines improving health and saving lives: health workers.

A Note from Dr. Jonathan D. Quick

My MSH colleagues Mary O'Neil and Jonathan Jay blog about what we can learn from the Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health, held this November in Recife, Brazil:

Recife Top Ten: Together Toward Health for All

 {Photo credit: Eric Miller}Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, accepts the offer to wear an HIV-Positive T-shirt.Photo credit: Eric Miller

(Also see MSH's official statement mourning the death of Nelson Mandela. —Eds.)

I am only one of thousands of young South Africans who left our country in our teen years, fleeing persecution for our political beliefs and actions, and believing that by leaving our country we would regroup and come back to contribute to the overthrow of the apartheid, racist regime.

Did we really believe that would happen?

I must say that the overwhelming urge for us to go on with the struggle and belief was the specter of Nelson Mandela addressing us in “Freedom Square” one day soon. What was most amazing about Madiba is that, for decades, we led protest marches all over the world without even knowing what he looked like, for the regime had banned all pictures of him and all we had was an artist’s impression of what he should have looked like.

The Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health convened in Recife, Brazil from November 10-13, 2013.The Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health convened in Recife, Brazil from November 10-13, 2013.

The Third Global Forum on Human Resources for Health (HRH Forum) brought together some 2,000 representatives of government, academia, professional associations, and civil society from 93 World Health Organization (WHO) Member States. Participants took stock of the current state of the global health workforce and committed to working toward universal health coverage (UHC), culminating in adoption of the Recife Declaration (PDF). "Country after country has outlined actions that will ultimately transform and improve the landscape for health workers, and prioritize their needs in a world with ever growing demands being placed on them," said Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation and Executive Director a.i. of the Global Health Workforce Alliance.

{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: Ben Greenberg/MSH}Priya Bery and Professor Peter Anyang’ Nyong’OPhoto credit: Ben Greenberg/MSH

Earlier this month, on November 5, at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art, MSH held a special event: a photography exhibition and global health discussion, moderated by Tom Ashbrook of NPR's On Point. The photos on display were by the 2012 MSH photography fellows who documented our life-saving work in Africa with people at all levels of the health system—from households to health workers to doctors and nurses to government officials and ministers of health. 

Tom Ashbrook led our panelists in a discussion of their visions for a world where everyone has the opportunity for a healthy life. The panelists were:

 {Photo credit: Yvonne Otieno/MSH}Josephine Mbiyu of the USAID-funded LMS project discusses the localization of leadership for strengthening health systems in MSH Kenya projects.Photo credit: Yvonne Otieno/MSH

Effective leaders and institutions are the foundations of strong health institutions.

~ Dr. Daraus Bukenya, MSH country representative of Kenya

The Management Sciences for Health Kenya country office hosted a panel discussion on leadership at the Devex Partnerships Forum held in Nairobi. This was a unique opportunity for the over 120 participants who attended the session to discuss practical examples of how leadership translates to better health outcomes within and beyond the panel session. The right to health, efficiency in delivery of services, leadership training, and informed decision-making emerged as key themes during the panel discussion. Some of the key questions raised during the session included:

{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.

{Photo credit: Rui Pires}Photo credit: Rui Pires

A global movement toward universal health coverage (UHC) is emerging. Fifteen global civil society organizations signed a statement urging UN countries to include UHC in post-Millennium Development goals (MDGs).

Devex.com features a video interview with MSH President and CEO Dr. Jonathan D. Quick at the Clinton Global Initiative. Eliza Villarino writes:

For some, universal health coverage is a remote vision. The idea, according to Management Sciences for Health President and CEO Jonathan Quick, is actually not that far-fetched.

Universal health coverage refers to the commitment of countries to provide basic health, prevention and treatment services to all their citizens without financially burdening them. Today, 50 countries, including 20 lower-middlie-income countries offer such coverage, Quick noted in an exclusive interview with Devex on the sidelines of the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative annual gathering in New York.

"I think the biggest thing that’s happening right now that affects health systems is the movement toward universal health coverage," Quick said.

He also explained why investment in global health is one of the best ways to improve U.S. image abroad and security at home. How?

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