On the third annual Universal Health Coverage Day on 12 December 2016, a coalition of 864 organizations in 117 countries will affirm that health is a human right, that no one should go bankrupt when they get sick, and that universal health coverage underpins our collective security and prosperity. Recognizing that 400 million people worldwide still lack access to essential health services—the vast majority of which can be delivered through the primary health care system—partners will host more than 80 events in 33 countries to call on political leaders to uphold commitments to achieve health for all. Universal health coverage was endorsed by the United Nations last year as one of the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.
To accelerate progress toward this goal, The Rockefeller Foundation today announced a US$1,498,945 commitment to the International Health Partnership for UHC 2030 (UHC 2030), a new multi-stakeholder initiative to sustain political commitment, advocate for resources and strengthen dialogue and accountability for universal health coverage. Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, formally launched UHC 2030 in September 2016. The Rockefeller Foundation will also formally join the initiative as a member.
“The global community has spoken—the question is no longer if universal health coverage is the right goal, but when we will achieve it,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Progress now will depend on bold political leadership and a strong commitment to accountability. The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to support the new International Health Partnership for UHC 2030, which will help ensure that our vision of health for all is met with equally ambitious action.”
The launch of UHC 2030 is one of a number of new political commitments to universal health coverage in 2016:
“Everyone should have access to health care without financial worries,” said Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, Deputy Chair of The Elders. “Too many people suffer ill health or even die because they cannot get the treatment that should be readily available.”
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: universal health coverage is the most powerful concept that public health has to offer,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization. “Ensuring access to health without financial hardship builds fair, stable and cohesive societies.”
There is increasing evidence that universal health coverage is a smart investment. Health improvements drove a quarter of full-income growth in developing countries between 2000 and 2011. At this rate of return, every US$1 invested in health would produce US$9-US$20 of full-income growth over the next 20 years. Seventeen percent of people in low- and middle-income countries are pushed or further pushed into poverty (US$2/day) because of health spending.
“When people can lead healthy, productive lives, economies soar,” said Dr. Tim Evans, Senior Director of Health Nutrition and Population at the World Bank Group. “Countries at every income level can and must act on evidence and invest in the health of their citizens.”
On Universal Health Coverage Day 2016, partners are recognizing primary health care as a key priority on the pathway to achieving health for all. Strong primary health care systems can manage 90% of people’s health needs, so that patients only need to visit hospitals or specialists 10% of the time. However, use of these critical services is impeded by cost. Individuals currently pay more out-of-pocket for primary health care than governments and donors combined.
“Strong primary health care improves, protects and saves lives, especially in the poorest and most marginalized communities,” said Dr. Chris Elias, President of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “If the global community is serious about reaching universal health coverage, we cannot afford to ignore the pressing need for better investments in primary health care systems.”
SERAC-Bangladesh hosted the first-ever youth-focused conference on Universal Health Coverage, convening policymakers, civil society and media in Dhaka.
Universal Health Coverage Coalition partners are planning more than 80 events in 33 countries to mark Universal Health Coverage Day and urge national leaders to accelerate reforms toward health for all. Highlights include:
A rally in Bangladesh organized by Kidney Foundation Hospital and Research Institute on the eve of Universal Health Day 2016.