Universal Health Coverage Day 2019: All you need to know
According to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres "Universal health coverage is integral to delivering the Sustainable Development Goals, our blueprint of a better future for people and planet. On this International Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to health for all as an investment in humanity, wellbeing and prosperity for everyone".
It is well said that "Health is wealth". There are millions of people who lack better health and treatment. Health is a human right. This day reminds of the quality health care that people need and deserve without facing financial hardship.
Universal Health Coverage Day 2019: Theme
The theme of Universal Health Coverage Day 2019 is "Keep the Promise". On 23 September 2019, the High-Level Meeting on UHC at the United Nations General Assembly in New York highlighted strong political vision and commitment to ensure UHC for the people they serve. They also recognised the importance of primary health care as "the cornerstone of a sustainable health system for UHC and Sustainable Development Goals related to health". Therefore UHC's campaign theme of 2019 is "Keep the Promise".
It is necessary to guarantee health as a right and not as a privilege. Also, the focus should be on real investment in the society where all people regardless of gender, race, religion, citizenship, age, wealth, etc, get the quality health care that they need without facing any financial hardship.
Universal Health Coverage: History
The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on 12 December, 2012 endorsed a resolution by urging countries to accelerate the progress toward Universal Health Coverage (UHC). So, everyone should have access to quality, affordable health care which is important for international development. The United Nations passed a resolution 72/138 on 12 December, 2017 to celebrate International Universal Health Coverage Day (UHC Day) on 12 December. Since then, every year on 12 December Universal Health Coverage Day is celebrated.
What is Universal Health Coverage?
The Universal Health Coverage ensures people of all groups, caste, religion, etc. to get quality health services without facing any sort of financial hardships. It includes quality health services, treatment, rehabilitation, from health promotion to prevention and palliative care. It is necessary for the people to understand the cause of diseases and death and also UHC ensures the quality of the services that are enough to improve the health of the people who receive them. It also focuses on the good health of the children so that they can learn and adults will be able to earn to come out from poverty which is the basis for long-term economic development.
Universal Health coverage does not provide:
- Free coverage for all possible health interventions, regardless of the cost because no country can provide all the services free of cost.
- It is not only about health financing. It consists of all the components of the health system including service delivery systems, the health workforce, health facilities, communications networks, etc.
- UHC is not only about ensuring a minimum package of health services but about a progressive expansion of coverage of health services.
- With the individual treatment services, it also includes population-based services like health campaigns, adding fluoride to water, etc.
- UHC is not only about health but also focus on equity, development, social inclusion and cohesion.
Key facts about Universal Health Coverage
According to WHO,
- At least half of the population of the world does not have full coverage of essential health services.
- Approximately 100 million people are still pushed into extreme poverty because they have to pay for health care.
Note: Extreme poverty here means a person living on 1.90 USD or less a day.
- Around 800 million people i.e. almost 12% of the world's population spent at least 10% of their household budgets to pay for health care.
- To achieve Sustainable Development Goals, the UN Member States agreed to achieve the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030.
Can we measure Universal Health Coverage (UHC)?
Yes, we can measure UHC. The monitoring progress of UHC focuses on two things:
- The part of a population that can access essential quality health services.
- The part of the population that spends a large amount of household income on health.
The framework to track the UHC progress is developed by WHO and monitored both the categories including the overall level and the extent to which UHC is equitable, offering service coverage and financial protection to all people within a population like poor or those people who live in remote rural areas.
WHO uses 16 essential health services mentioned in 4 categories as indicators of the level.
Therefore, we can say Universal Health Coverage Day is observed on 12 December to provide strong, equitable health systems to the population of the world so that no one left behind and get health care facilities. The 2019 theme "Keep the Promise" also reminds all the leaders, organisations to support, provide health investments.