Editorial, Opinion Pieces Discuss Efforts To Achieve Universal Health Coverage On UHC Day

The Lancet Global Health: Adding clarity to the universal health coverage picture
Editorial Board

“…As countries embark on the journey towards [universal health coverage (UHC)], they need tools to evaluate their starting point, keep track along the way, and define the way forward. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer ways to monitor their UHC-dedicated target … As always in monitoring efforts, a major hurdle is the availability and quality of the data available in many countries. But beyond tracking progress efficiently and resolving deficiencies in the health care system, there are characteristics of the economies of many low-income and middle-income countries that also represent potential impediments to progress towards UHC. … [I]nformality in the labor market, and its connection to poverty and lack of social protection in particular, is one such characteristic that the drive towards UHC will have to consider. So the picture is still blurry, the outline imprecise, but as work continues, we can expect (and demand) that the shape(s) of UHC will be brought into focus” (January 2018).

Inter Press Service: For Freedom from Poverty, Universal Health Coverage Is a Must
Siddharth Chatterjee, United Nations resident coordinator in Kenya, and Githinji Gitahi, global CEO of Amref Health Africa

“…Across the globe there is a strong correlation between high rates of out-of-pocket expenses and catastrophic and impoverishing health expenditure. … Affordability is not the only barrier. Lack of public awareness, high loss ratios due to fraud, and reluctance among insurers to underwrite cover for the poor are also important. … There is a clear need to develop low-cost, innovative solutions for expanding insurance coverage and technology must form part of such solutions. … However, such innovation must be accompanied by increased efficiency in health spending, through partnerships with institutions working to improving access to health care for the poor, and through policy dialogue between government and other stakeholders. … Ultimately, sustainability demands increased investment in preventive care and primary health…” (12/12).

Devex: Opinion: 5 ways to make progress towards universal health coverage
Rozita Halina Tun Hussein, senior deputy director of the planning division within the Malaysia Ministry of Health; Amanda Folsom, senior program director at Results for Development; and Somil Nagpal, cluster lead for the World Bank’s health sector programs in Cambodia and Lao PDR

“…[T]he Joint Learning Network for Universal Health Coverage brings together practitioners from government agencies to accelerate [the momentum to advance UHC] — working to translate country experiences and expertise into actionable policies and practices. This community of practitioners from national health and finance agencies meets regularly to tackle common technical barriers to UHC in service delivery — especially primary health care — health financing and provider payment, data, and information systems, and quality of care. We’ve learned a lot through practitioner-to-practitioner learning, and here are five key insights we’ve gained along our journey. 1. Align health financing and primary health care goals. … 2. Engage the private sector in the provision of primary care. … 3. Leverage medical audits to improve quality of care and system efficiency. … 4. Use costing studies to inform evidence-based provider payment policy. … 5. Employ data analytics to monitor provider payment systems and quality of care…” (12/12).

Devex: Opinion: Yes, we can reach every child with accessible, quality care
Luwei Pearson, deputy director of UNICEF’s global health program

“…Investments in UHC yield the highest returns when they target the most deprived families and children. … Global efforts to achieve UHC must therefore begin by identifying the most deprived communities and breaking down the barriers to good health. But how can this be done? 1. Deploy a multi-pronged effort … 2. Integrate services … 3. Consider accountability … UNICEF believes the global effort to achieve UHC is one of the most ambitious undertakings in human history. The stakes are high: the future health, well-being, and prosperity of our world. We cannot be intimidated by the magnitude of the task. The world has the evidence, the knowledge, and resources to achieve good health for every child and family. We hope governments, civil society groups, organizations, and individuals will join the growing coalition of activists and advocates who assert that no child should die of preventable causes. We can build a healthier, happier world — for every community, for every child” (12/12).

Asahi Shimbun: Point of View: Global health for all depends upon water, hygiene, and sanitation
Tim Wainwright, chief executive of WaterAid, and Kaoru Takahashi, WaterAid representative in Japan

“Japan is demonstrating its leadership in global health this week by co-hosting a Universal Health Coverage Forum of international leaders and policymakers, part of the drive to ensure health coverage for all by 2030. With Japan’s own story of rebuilding into today’s prosperous and forward-thinking society, with effective provisions to ensure health care for all, its leaders are well placed to assume a leading role in the Universal Health Coverage movement, which aims to ensure pandemic preparedness and better health for all through strengthened health systems. As the forum … convenes, WaterAid is calling on governments and donors to act in recognition that this goal cannot be achieved without investing in clean water, sanitation, and good hygiene in all health facilities, everywhere…” (12/12).

The Lancet Global Health: Informality and health: universal health coverage in the era of SDGs
Lawrence Were, lecturer at Boston University’s College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Sargent College

“…The regions that would benefit most from meeting [SDG health] targets and indicators also have the highest disease burden and are characterized by informality — a collection of firms, workers, and activities that operate outside the legal and regulatory frameworks or outside the modern economy. … Informality is therefore important for health and achievement of UHC by 2030 because it is connected to poverty, low productivity, and absence of social protection. … Moving forward, innovative ways of financing health care need to be considered as different countries transition through informality. One strategy used in low-income and middle-income countries is community-based health insurance, whereby individuals with similar backgrounds set up, own, and operate a health-insurance scheme. … Such innovations need to be based on the six building blocks of the WHO health-system framework (service delivery, health workforce, information, medical products and technologies, financing, and leadership)…” (January 2018).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

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