April 7: World Health Day — The World Health Organization was founded on the principle that all people should be able to realize their right to the highest possible level of health.
“Health for all” has therefore been their guiding vision for more than seven decades. It’s also the impetus behind the current organization-wide drive to support countries in moving towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
Experience has illustrated, time and again, that Universal Health Coverage is achieved when political will is strong. Aiming to bring its population of more than 250 million under coverage by 2019, Indonesia continues to roll out its universal health care program, or Jaminan Kesehatan Nasional (JKN).
In its 70th anniversary year, WHO is calling on world leaders to live up to the pledges they made when they agreed the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, and commit to concrete steps to advance the health of all people. This means ensuring that everyone, everywhere can access essential quality health services without facing financial hardship.
The Organization will maintain a high-profile focus on UHC via a series of events through 2018, starting on World Health Day April t, with global and local conversations about ways to achieve health for all.
Why universal health coverage matters?
Countries that invest in UHC make a sound investment in their human capital. In recent decades, UHC has emerged as a key strategy to make progress towards other health-related and broader development goals. Access to essential quality care and financial protection not only enhances people’s health and life expectancy, it also protects countries from epidemics, reduces poverty and the risk of hunger, creates jobs, drives economic growth and enhances gender equality.
What World Health Day can do?
Some countries have already made significant progress towards universal health coverage. But half the world’s population is still unable to obtain the health services they need. If countries are to achieve the SDG target, one billion more people need to benefit from UHC by 2023.
World Health Day will shine a spotlight on the need for UHC – and the advantages it can bring. WHO and its partners will share examples of steps to take to get there through a series of events and conversations held at multiple levels.
As the WHO Director-General said: “No one should have to choose between death and financial hardship. No one should have to choose between buying medicine and buying food.”
Throughout 2018, WHO aims to inspire, motivate and guide UHC stakeholders to make commitments towards UHC:
Inspire—by highlighting policy-makers’ power to transform the health of their nation, framing the challenge as exciting and ambitious, and inviting them to be part of the change.
Motivate—by sharing examples of how countries are already progressing towards UHC and encourage others to find their own path.
Guide—by providing tools for structured policy dialogue on how to advance UHC domestically or supporting such efforts in other countries (e.g. expanding service coverage, improving quality of services, reducing out-of-pocket payments).