The Union calls for commitment to ensuring health for all on Universal Health Coverage Day

On Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day, 12 December, The Union stands with advocates around the world in demanding increased action dedicated to achieving access to health for all.

Universal access to good quality, affordable healthcare is integral to achieving Goal 3 - ‘Good health and well-being’ - of the United Nations’ sustainable development agenda for 2030.  

Yet World Health Organization (WHO) estimates suggest that, in 2017, 400 million people around the world are without access to healthcare. In many countries, health services remain unaffordable, and what is available cannot be quality-assured.

WHO Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said: “All roads lead to UHC. For me, the key question of UHC is an ethical one. Do we want our fellow citizens to die because they are poor?”

The Union’s Executive Director, José Luis Castro, said:

“Strengthening healthcare systems requires a cohesive, partner-led approach from a collaboration of governmental and stakeholder policy and implementation – backed by protected funding that does not change year-on-year and is unaffected by fluctuating political administrations.” 

The Union works across the world in some of the world’s poorest communities where challenging infrastructure, economies and healthcare services all impact negatively on the goal of UHC.

We propose three recommended actions which, if supported with appropriate and consistent levels of investment and resources, would positively impact global healthcare systems for all: 

  • The Union has long endorsed the qualities of operational research training – that is research into strategies, interventions, tools or knowledge - to enhance the effectiveness and performance of health systems. In practice this could mean supporting programme managers with the latest tools and training on new treatment regimens through to rebuilding healthcare systems that have been depleted through lack of resources or catastrophic epidemics.

Read two case studies that reflect both these subject areas:

The Union helps rebuild health systems in Ebola-affected countries through operational research

The Union’s new operational training course in Peru tackles critical updates in drug- resistant TB treatment and diagnosis

The Union’s latest training programmes can all be accessed via 

  • Prioritising the health workforce is central to strong healthcare systems. Well-trained and well-resourced staff across all disciplines, from scientists and researchers through to frontline nurses and doctors, are critical to ending TB. In low-resource settings particularly, nurses are frequently relied upon to deliver TB care and treatment – yet TB treatment is not generally part of nurse training. In accordance with the sustainable development goals, increased finance and investment must be prioritised to support the recruitment, training and retention of the health workforce in under-developed countries. The impact on healthcare systems would be profound. 

Case studyThe vital role of nurses in TB care and treatment

  •  Exploiting digital technology and knowledge management techniques. Technological advances are transforming health service delivery across the globe and should be considered a complementary strategy for strengthening health systems, especially in low- and middle- income countries.  Mobile health (mHealth) initiatives such as toll-free telephone helplines  and electronic patient records (easily accessible and crucial for giving real-time information to healthcare professionals) are mitigating against poor transport infrastructure, staffing shortages and issues of treatment compliance (simple appointment reminders sent by text message for example) in vulnerable communities. 

The Union participated in an expert Webinar for Universal Health Coverage Day, watch it here