Universal Health Coverage at the top of the global health agenda
(WHO - Global Health Workforce Alliance) - Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is gaining traction as a major health priority. One resolution that will be debated at the General Assembly, later this month, addresses universal health coverage and potentially calls for a special session on this issue, in 2013. To make UHC a reality, there is still the need for greater political will both at national level - to put in practice the reforms needed - and at international level to promote a general consensus towards ‘health for all’. In many countries access to health services is limited by actual health workers shortages. The Alliance has recently, renewed its efforts through a new strategy for 2013-2016, to advance the health workforce agenda with the UHC paradigm.
Since the release of the 2010 World Health Report, the global momentum for universal health coverage has continued to grow. At the 2012 World Health Assembly, Margaret Chan announced that UHC “is the single most powerful concept that public health has to offer”. Numerous countries, from Thailand to Mexico to South Africa are experimenting with models for moving toward UHC by utilizing health financing mechanisms to protect against financial risk, increase access to essential health services, and improve health outcomes. However, countries are yet to take stronger measures for the need to develop and maintain a strong health workforce.
Ahead of the United Nations General Assembly later this month, Alliance members, through the “Health Workers Count” campaign have developed a new brief which outlines why health workers count for achieving UHC. This brief describes the rationale for a strong health workforce in expanding coverage of services and why health workers must be considered when increasing financial risk protection and reducing inefficiencies. The brief calls on governments to take the much needed action on health workers as part of their efforts to achieve UHC. (We urge all our members and partners to take note of this briefing and distribute this widely through their respective channels.)
The Lancet, has issued a special collection of papers exploring the social, political, and economic issues around the global movement towards universal health coverage (UHC). The first of its kind, it addresses and expands upon three critical elements in the global movement towards UHC: the effects of universal health coverage on population health; government involvement in universal health coverage, and how low-income and lower middle-income countries in Africa and Asia are progressing towards universal health coverage. This series will be launched at the special event during the week of the General Assembly.