Vision 2014: UHC and the Opportunity for a Healthy Life

Vision 2014: UHC and the Opportunity for a Healthy Life

{Photo credit: Warren Zelman.}Photo credit: Warren Zelman.

“A world where everyone has the opportunity for a healthy life.” This is MSH’s vision, guiding our efforts every day to save lives and improve health among the poorest and most vulnerable populations. In 2014, universal health coverage (UHC) will play a pivotal role in helping us attain this vision.  MSH has vigorously supported UHC because we’re committed to the human right to health, deeply embedded in UHC, and because it’s the only approach that transforms health systems to mobilize all available resources towards the affordable, quality health services that people need.

MSH has been a lead advocate for UHC in the post-2015 sustainable health and development framework.  In 2013, we convened four high profile events—one in Washington, DC, last spring on access to medicines and UHC, a TED-style talk in Malaysia at the Third Global Women Deliver Conference on how UHC will help women’s health; a panel discussion at the Rockefeller Foundation during UN General Assembly week in September where we brought together key stakeholders on UHC from the malaria, tuberculosis, and maternal, newborn, and child health communities; and a multimedia event with NPR’s Tom Ashbrook at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, in conjunction with the American Public Health Association’s annual meeting. MSH’s Health for All UHC advocacy campaigns in Africa have advanced the UHC agenda in Ethiopia Kenya, and Nigeria, and MSH will be leading a global civil society campaign toward UHC in 2014.

I participated in a panel discussion on UHC at the Center for Strategic Information & Studies (CSIS) this month which aimed to debunk some of the myths surrounding UHC and explain why it remains the essential feature of the post-2015 health development agenda.

UHC isn’t just an aspirational vision, or a privilege for wealthy countries alone—it’s achievable for countries at every income level, as proven by Thailand, Turkey, Mexico, Rwanda and others. That’s why dozens of low- and middle-income countries have started taking important steps towards UHC in recent years.  

A recent Lancet Commission report Global Health 2035 provides a roadmap to achieving  dramatic gains in global health through a “grand convergence” around infectious diseases, maternal and child mortality; major reductions in the incidence and consequences of non-communicable diseases (chronic diseases) and injuries; and UHC. 

The paths toward this “grand convergence” and to UHC will require changes in how health systems work at the community and country levels.

MSH will continue to strengthen health systems through health-systems innovation, advocacy, capacity building, and evidence in over 65 countries leading to greater health impact. 

It's exciting to begin 2014 by sharing examples of last year's successes in health systems strengthening. These 12 stories from Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Sudan show how people in the poorest and most vulnerable regions can have the opportunity for a healthy life.

Are you working on UHC in 2014?

What are your thoughts on the “grand convergence” in health?

I look forward to reading your comments.