The UN Secretary General should make universal health coverage a global goal

by

WHR 2010

This May the WHO’s World Health Assembly passed a resolution (WHA64.9) specifically requesting the Director-General, “to convey to the United Nations Secretary-General the importance of universal health coverage (UHC) for discussion by a forthcoming session of the United Nations General Assembly.” This resolution reflects a growing commitment to target universal health coverage explicitly as a global development goal, and builds upon the work of the 2010 World Health Report on universal coverage.

As experts have noted, the vertical-horizontal approach debate pendulum has swung back to horizontal; for now, focusing on health systems and UHC is the right approach.  Given the current fiscally austere environment, it is also the right moment for UHC. UHC is the right approach at the right time. Huge new donor investments, like those required for the Global Fund or GAVI, are not necessarily needed to achieve UHC.  In fact, some emerging economies like Thailand, Mexico, Brazil and others are already reaching near universal coverage, while others like Ghana, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Vietnam and South Africa are commiting to reaching universal coverage.

This September, the Secretary-General (SG) should harness the lobbies and momentum of HIV/AIDS, Every Woman and Every Child, the Millennium Development Goals, and the nascent NCD movement, and transform them into an even more robust movement and strategic commitment to implementing universal health coverage. The SG has a unique opportunity to build on recent impressive successes in global health, and enshrine a path forward on UHC that every country can own.

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4 Responses to “The UN Secretary General should make universal health coverage a global goal”

  1. mbrown2011 Says:

    Access to quality health care is vital to the well being of all populations. It’s heartening to see the WHO Assembly addressing this topic in the global arena. So many countries have successful universal health care system with many more bringing their populations under the umbrella of care. What truly saddens me is this topic continues to polarize Americans. One would expect better infant mortality rates and access to care in such an advanced and technologically oriented country. Sadly, we could take a strong lesson from Japan, Germany, and Canada and now Thailand and Mexico on how best to care for our population. I’m looking forward to the outcome of the discussions to be held by the WHO Assembly. Hopefully the United States is watching and taking note.

  2. sbfphc Says:

    Making health care universal would be in keeping with the Secretary General’s pledge to make malaria interventions universally accessible a few years ago.

  3. kakuete Says:

    This is a very interesting idea! Any idea that could result in quality health care for the masses across the globe is one in which we should all consider. I wonder how something like this would look. Who’s system would we try to implement for the world? How would all the insurance companies respond to this notion? Who would lead it or manage it?

  4. cheeseqo Says:

    Who pays? Healthcare costs continue to soar and scare even governments who earnestly care for their citizens. I believe in the goal of eradicating extreme poverty and empowering women. These two approaches can take care of the many social and health problems in our world today. Universal healthcare is a bit of an utopian aspiration.

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