The right to good health is everybody's prerogative. Yet, millions all over the world don’t have access to even the most basic healthcare. Scores of underprivileged are forced to forsake healthcare for daily expenses such as food, clothing and shelter. Only universal health coverage can ensure that no human being will ever have to make a choice between the two. That’s why, WHO’s theme for World Health Day 2019 is ‘Universal Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere.’ Let’s understand what universal health coverage is and why it is one of WHO’s key goals.
What is Universal Health Coverage?
According to WHO, Universal Health Coverage or UHC means making quality health services, which provides preventive, curative and palliative care, affordable to all.
There are three objectives to achieving UHC:
• Ensuring everyone who needs healthcare service gets it, irrespective of their financial status.
• The quality of healthcare services should be good enough to improve health.
• People who seek healthcare services should be protected from financial risk. Good health shouldn’t come at the cost of financial harm.
UHC is based on the 1948 WHO constitution, which declared health a fundamental human right, and the Health for All agenda of the 1978 Alma Ata declaration.
The purpose of UHC is to ensure that even the poorest of the poor don’t have to compromise on healthcare services.
What Are The Benefits of Universal Health Care?
Imagine watching a loved one suffering from a life-threatening disease and not having the financial means to treat it. For millions, this is an everyday reality. By ensuring broader health coverage, the health of the overall population improves, according to a Lancet study.
UHC can also accrue tangible economic benefits for countries that have health coverage. By introducing UHC, countries can also effect a marked reduction in out-of-pocket expenditure. UHC has worked in countries like Thailand and Mexico which finances their health coverage systems through general taxes, social health insurance contributions, private insurance premiums and a low level of out-of-pocket expenses.
Introduction of UHC also benefits politicians, and it’s a part of many a political agenda. Obamacare and Modicare are a few examples. Pioneers of UHC have gone on to become national heroes. The architect of Canada’s UHC reforms Tommy Douglas was voted as the Greatest Canadian by the people.
When it comes to healthcare, it’s should be the goal of every government to ensure that human being is left behind. On World Health Day 2019, let’s hope that one day we can dream of a perfect future where choosing between health and subsistence should never be an option.