Quality, essential health care – for everyone, everywhere

Today on World Health Day, 7 April 2018, The Union joins international calls for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) – that all people, everywhere, should have access to quality, essential health care without financial hardship.

At present half of the world’s population lacks this basic access. And health costs have pushed more than 100 million people into poverty. If the Sustainable Development Goals that so many countries committed to in 2015 are to be achieved, UHC must become a priority for heads of state and world leaders from all spheres.

José Luis Castro, Executive Director of The Union said: “All people should be able to achieve good health and find treatment and care when they need it. We all have a role to play in creating the environment in which health can flourish but it is the ultimate responsibility of every country and their governments to create workable systems and approaches to deliver it. Let us be clear - universal health coverage is a basic human right. But it is only attainable when inequalities around access to healthcare services are addressed.”

Later this year, the first ever UN High Level Meeting on Tuberculosis (TB) will convene on 26 September in New York. This historic event offers world leaders and heads of state the opportunity to accelerate progress against the TB epidemic and expand TB care. Universal Health Coverage is a critical strategy for this, and will be essential for achieving the global goal to reduce TB deaths by 95 percent by 2035.

There is an urgent need for political leadership at the highest levels to combat the TB epidemic -- ensuring that everyone with TB, everywhere, has access to effective treatment. The longer this access is delayed, the more complex the situation becomes. Research and development funding is now critical to tackle multi-drug resistant (MDR) TB, with 45 percent of cases concentrated in just three countries -- India, China and the Russian Federation.

Where resources for TB treatment are limited, the most vulnerable in society are the least well provided for – globally, infants and children are the least likely group to receive TB care. But each year one million children develop TB and 234,000 die from the disease. Ninety percent of those children who die from TB have not received any treatment.

On World Health Day, The Union calls for a global TB response from our leaders – we call for universal access to care, investment in research and development, and that this global response be built on a human rights foundation.