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UHC Headlines from Around the Globe

Bhutan has made progress in universal health coverage: WHO


(Business Standard) - Bhutan is one of the countries in South Asia which has made significant progress in all dimensions of universal health coverage, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said here Wednesday.

A recent assessment by the health ministry shows that the health system in the country provides over 75 percent coverage, with the majority of the population having access to good-quality services, health workers, medicines and technologies, without causing them financial hardship, the WHO said in a release.

"Bhutan now needs to strengthen efforts to counter the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases, especially through preventive activities that are low-cost and sustainable," said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director for WHO Southeast Asia.

Highlighting Bhutan's role in global health, she said the country "has brought human well-being to centrestage of the development debate".

The WHO is bringing together international public health experts, development

Effective access to health care in Mexico


(7th Space Interactive) - Effective access measures are intended to reflect progress toward universal health coverage. This study proposes an operative approach to measuring effective access: in addition to the lack of financial protection, the willingness to make out-of-pocket payments for health care signifies a lack of effective access to pre-paid services.

Methods: Using data from a nationally representative health survey in Mexico, effective access at the individual level was determined by combining financial protection and effective utilization of pre-paid health services as required.

The measure of effective access was estimated overall, by sex, by socioeconomic level, and by federal state for 2006 and 2012.

Results: In 2012, 48.49% of the Mexican population had no effective access to health services.

WHO to seek Universal Health Coverage in Southeast Asia

(Livemint) - The World Health Organization (WHO) will seek to provide access to health services for all in Southeast Asia and put in place robust healthcare systems in the region, the agency’s regional director Poonam Khetrapal Singh said in a speech at a conference on Wednesday in Paro, Bhutan.

Public health experts, development agencies and academics are attending the conference to share their experiences and identify ways to bring about universal health coverage (UHC) in Southeast Asia, which aims to ensure that people get health services without experiencing financial hardship in paying for them.

WHO’s Southeast Asia ambit covers 11 countries—Bangladesh, Bhutan, North Korea, India, Indonesia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

In Southeast Asia, out-of-pocket payments for health are the highest among all the WHO regions and one-third of new annual poverty is healthcare related.

Angola: Universal Health Care Coverage Calls for Restructuring of Several Platforms


(All Africa) - Luanda — The chairman of the first meeting of African Health Ministers, the Angolan José Van-Dúnem, said last Thursday in Luanda that universal health care coverage calls for a restructuring in the management of several platforms aiming for a single well co-ordinated system.

According to the official - who was delivering a speech at the first meeting of African Health ministers, jointly organized by the African Union Commission and the World Health Organization (WHO), held on 14-17 April, in Luanda - there has to be a coverage that is capable to guarantee an equitable access to a diversity of benefits, including for the vulnerable persons.

He went on to say that the universal health care coverage is visible in the context of African countries and is very much necessary, in order to speed up the improvement of people's health in the continent, in an equitable manner.

"Since the universal health care coverage demands a total involvement of multiple players, it w

North Korean health system crumbling as shortages and sanctions bite

North Korea

(The Guardian) - Touring a new hospital in Pyongyang recently, North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, boasted that it would “let the people live in luxury and comfort under socialism in good health”.

But North Koreans interviewed in China paint a grimmer picture of medical conditions across their country: citing broken equipment, declining treatment standards and widespread self-medication.

“A lot of people who are sick use ‘ice’ [methamphetamine] as a medicine.

Vietnam pharma market "to grow 20% to 2017"


(Pharma Times) - Vietnam’s pharmaceutical market grew nearly 17% last year to a value of over $3 billion, and is expected to grow a further 20% by 2017, say new market forecasts.

Vietnam is one of Southeast Asia’s fastest-growing pharma markets, with demand for prescription medicines being fuelled by a range of drivers including increasing affluence, a rapidly-aging population and the steady extension of public health insurance, says the study, from Decision Resources.

Vietnam has set the goal of achieving universal health coverage by 2015, which is ambitious given that over 30% of the population still has no form of public health insurance and that private health expenditure remains high at 57% of the country’s total health spending.

Drug prices are comparatively high, at 12 times above the level of international reference prices.

Why sanitation should be sacred

(The Economist) - THE first decade of this century brought a surge in aid for health, particularly for HIV and malaria. Now health officials and wonks are debating how to fight a broader range of diseases. The World Bank has set a goal of universal health-coverage by 2030. This is an important, complex endeavour. But in the effort to improve health care, it is worth remembering a simple, albeit unsavoury truth: poo matters.

In the history of public health, few events are as important as a discovery made in the mid-19th century, not far from the site of The Economist’s London offices. A doctor named John Snow demonstrated that a contaminated water pump was helping to spread cholera. Subsequent investment in sewage systems helped banish the scourge from London and much of the world.

Today proper water and sanitation systems are as crucial as ever to avoid crippling infectious diarrhoeal diseases, such as cholera and salmonellosis.

Vietnam's Pharmaceutical Market is Among the Fastest Growing in Southeast Asia, Driven by Increasing Affluence, an Aging Population, and an Expansion of Public Health Insurance


(Wall Street Journal) - Decision Resources Group finds that Vietnam is currently one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical markets in Southeast Asia, recording a growth rate of nearly 17 percent and exceeding $3 billion in size in 2013. Increasing affluence, a rapidly aging population and the steady extension of public health insurance are among factors that are driving demand for prescription medicines.

Vietnam has set an ambitious goal to achieve universal health coverage by 2015, since over 30 percent of the population is still not covered by any form of public health insurance, and private health expenditure remains high at 57 percent of the country's total health expenditure. Vietnamese patients also face a burden from relatively high drug prices, due to limited domestic drug production and a lack of cost-containment measures.

Universal health coverage: time for an ambitious call for equity in health

( - “In the global survey World We Want 2015, health was the first priority of people living in poor countries. This was not surprising. Every year in Africa, nearly a quarter of a million children under five die because their parents cannot afford to pay for treatment.

According to the World Health Organization, 150 million people face catastrophic healthcare costs every year, while 100 million are pushed into poverty because of direct payments. Increasingly, poor people are protesting the denial of their basic right to access healthcare when they need it.

The situation can afford no band-aid, but needs transformative solutions. It is time for universal health coverage.

Universal health coverage: a simple and unifying concept

Some people argue that the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) concept is not easily understood or defined. In fact, it is very simple. At its core UHC is about ensuring the right to health.

All countries can reach Universal Health Coverage

(United Nations Radio) - Any country whatever its economic performance can provide Universal Health Coverage (UHC), according to health policy experts.

Ministers and health representatives gathered at the United Nations on Monday to discuss the importance and feasibility of ensuring that everyone has access to affordable primary health services.

Global support for UHC has been gathering momentum since 2012, with the unanimous adoption of a resolution in the General Assembly that emphasized health as an essential element of international development.

Mr. Yamaya, the Director for health policy at the Japanese Foreign Ministry, said all countries have the capacity to expand their base health service coverage.

“Universal Health Coverage is within the reach of any country. Health is a common need for all people in the world. Japan feels obliged to promote universal health coverage in the post-2015 agenda because it knows well the fruit that are born by UHC.