Universal health coverage (UHC) is a major contributor towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), says the World Health Organisation (WHO) country representative, Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses.
On September 25, 2015, countries adopted a set of goals to end poverty, promote good health and well-being, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all as part of a new sustainable development agenda.
Universal health coverage is also a major contributor to reducing poverty and inequality, further stated Sagoe-Moses.
“Quality healthcare that is funded and managed will deliver essential, accessible and affordable health for everyone everywhere, when needed,” said Sagoe-Moses.
Universal health coverage is ensuring that all people have access to needed promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring people do not suffer financial hardship when paying for these services. UHC is a major goal for health reform in many countries and a priority objective of WHO, according to the WHO website.
With concerted efforts from all United Nations member states, Sagoe-Moses believes it is possible to bring healthcare to everyone as part of the SDGs. “It’s not going to be easy or to be achieved in one day but with clearly set targets, an implementation plan and sufficient resources health for all is achievable,” noted Sagoe-Moses.
Over 800 million people spend at least 10 percent of their household budgets to pay for healthcare, according to the WHO.
Sagoe-Moses believes that moving towards universal health coverage requires strengthening health systems in all countries. “Robust financing structures are key. When people have to pay most of the cost for health services out of their own pockets, the poor are often unable to obtain many of the services they need,” said Sagoe-Moses.
Also, the rich may be exposed to financial hardships in the event of severe or long-term illness.
“Pooling funds from compulsory funding sources such as mandatory insurance contributions can spread the financial risks of illness across a population,” added the WHO country representative. Additionally, investment in the primary healthcare workforce is most needed and cost-effective in improving equity in access to essential healthcare services.