Universal health coverage (UHC) can be achieved, but it is a political choice that takes vision, courage, and long-term thinking.
“The reality is that around the world, more than 400-million people lack access to essential health services, and at least 100-million people are pushed into poverty by paying for healthcare out of their own pockets,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“This is unacceptable. The good news is that UHC is achievable. In July, we presented the evidence showing that 85% of the costs of meeting the sustainable development goals health targets can be met with domestic resources.
“Those investments would prevent 97-million premature deaths between now and 2030, and add up to 8.4 years of life expectancy in some countries.”
He added that all countries at all income levels can do more with the resources they have, and can take action now to improve the health of their populations. “It is a scandal to me that people must choose between buying medicine and buying food. It is a scandal that sickness can plunge an entire family into poverty because a breadwinner is unable to work. It is a scandal that a mother could lose her baby because the services needed to save it are too far away. We cannot accept a world like that. We must not accept a world like that.”
Universal health coverage is based on the conviction that health is a human right, not a privilege. It improves health, but it also reduces poverty, creates jobs, drives economic growth, promotes gender equality, and protects populations against epidemics.