Universal Health Coverage Gaining Momentum into 2013

Universal Health Coverage Gaining Momentum into 2013

A Rwandese woman shows her child's community-based health insurance card. {Photo credit: C. T. Ngoc/MSH.}Photo credit: C. T. Ngoc/MSH.

Last week, the 67th United Nations General Assembly adopted a historic resolution that emphasizes universal health coverage (UHC) in the global health and foreign policy work of the UN and Member States in the coming year.

MSH hailed the resolution as “a decisive step in the fight against health inequity and poverty.” Jeanette Vega of the Rockfeller Foundation said the passage “shines a light on the 150 million people worldwide that face catastrophic healthcare expenditures” and that the “world demonstrated that UHC is becoming the most important and relevant topic in the global health sector.” Annick Jeantet of Action for Global Health said, “Overall the merit of this resolution is to highlight how health is an important cross-cutting issue in the international development agenda as well as a precondition, an outcome and an indicator of all three dimensions of sustainable development."

The resolution calls on the UN to commit to continued consultations on how best to promote UHC at the national, regional, and global levels and recognizes that “effective and financially sustainable implementation of UHC is based on a resilient and responsive health system that provides comprehensive primary health-care services with extensive geographical coverage and has and adequate skilled, well-trained and motivated workforce.”

The resolution also encourages Member States to convene a High Level Meeting on UHC and requests that the UN Secretary General submit to the General Assembly at its 68th session, a report which compiles and analyzes past and current experiences of Member States in ways that they have succeeded in implementing universal health coverage.

UHC in the Post-MDG Framework

Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have played a significant role in galvanizing investment in health and set ambitious but achievable targets to tackle global health issues vital to the well-being of people worldwide.

MSH CEO Dr. Jonathan Quick said last week, “As UN Member States are coming together in 2013 to shape the global development agenda for the next 15 years, this resolution sends a clear message that UHC is essential to achieving the right to health and is a key component of the post-MDGs Framework.”

MSH believes that the right to health should be realized and measured by the four essential principles of UHC: services must be available in sufficient quantity; accessible to all; affordable without causing hardship; and of appropriate quality.

In a statement submitted to the World Health Organization (WHO) Post-2015 health consultation last week, MSH recommends universal health coverage as the overarching post-MDGs health goal along with key provisions for equity and measurable targets to improve health and deliver effective and sustainable solutions. Human rights should underpin the new MDGs framework.

Barbara Ayotte is MSH's director of strategic communications.

What do you think?

  • What do you think about the UN resolution on UHC?
  • What should be the health goal(s) for the Post-MDGs framework?
Tell us in the comments.
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