PM seeks effective collaboration to achieve Universal Health Coverage

Lack of equity may bring political instability, she says

Sun Online Desk

24th September, 2019 12:24:56 printer

PM seeks effective collaboration to achieve Universal Health Coverage

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday said collaboration among countries at regional and global levels is fundamental to accelerate progress in the Universal Health Coverage.

“Resource mobilisation to ensure Universal Health Coverage is a fundamental obstacle in many countries. Effective global partnership to formulate healthcare financing strategy for each country could be an important tool to achieve UHC and ultimately SDGs by 2030,” she said.

The Prime Minister said this while addressing 'Multi-stakeholder Panel’ held in parallel to the High-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) on the theme 'UHC as driver of equity, inclusive development and prosperity for all'.

Sheikh Hasina along with her Spanish counterpart Pedro Sánchez co-chaired the programme held at ECOSOC Chamber of the UN Headquarters.

Hasina said, "I believe, collaboration amongst countries at the regional and global level is fundamental to accelerate progress in Universal Health Coverage.”

"Inclusive development and progress mean two things -- everyone, irrespective of his or her social background, must get an equal opportunity; and everyone must have equal access to the common benefit and resources,” she said.

She said only generating growth and creating wealth are not enough for progress and wellbeing unless the access to and distribution of the wealth are just and proper.

“We’ve found out that securing universal health coverage is one of the pre-conditions for establishing a righteous and fair society as our health equates to our existence. While adopting Agenda 2030 in 2015, we committed that all individuals and communities should be able to receive essential health services,” she added.

Although there has been some major progress, half the world's population still lacks access to necessary health services. About 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty each year because of health expenses, and 800 million people spend at least 10 per cent or more of their household budget on healthcare expenses," Hasina said.

Noting that equity for all in availing of healthcare is an important issue, she said socio-economically disadvantaged people most often cannot access services from privately-owned health care providers resulting in inequity in overall health care benefits.

The Prime Minister said lack of equity and absence of inclusive development may bring political instability and serious erosion of social cohesion.

The PM said the equity in healthcare services could be ensured through Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by reaching to the poorest segment of the society with affordable and efficient health services. “We need to ensure that no family is forced into poverty because of health care expenses,” she said.

As stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for his or her health and well-being, she added.

She said 90 percent of health needs can be met at the primary healthcare level. "Therefore, strong primary healthcare systems can be the first line of defence against communicable and non-communicable diseases."

In Bangladesh, Hasina said, the government has established about 14 thousand ‘Community Clinics’ across the country to provide primary healthcare to rural areas so that the last one in line can be reached.

The PM said some 40 patients take health services from each community clinic per day and 90 percent of them are women and children. More than 10 million average visits are made to these community clinics every month.

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; Maha Taysir Barakat, Chair of the Board of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria; Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International; and Jeffery Sachs, Professor and Director, Center for Sustainable Development, Colombia University, were the panelists of the event.

Later, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina delivered national statement at the plenary session of the High-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) at the Trusteeship Council in the UN Headquarters, putting emphasis on collective efforts to ensure the universal health coverage as its benefits are global.

"Benefits of universal health coverage are global and we need to work collectively. Collaboration amongst stakeholders around a common goal like universal health coverage is fundamental to our development. We should work together to achieve health for all," she said.

The PM said health is an integral part of the development journey and this is essential for continued economic and social progress.

About Bangladesh, she mentioned that in the face of all constraints and limitations, the government has developed innovative ways to ensure universal health coverage for all.

"We had also promised to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by one third through prevention and treatment as well as to promote mental health and well-being by 2030," Hasina said.

In Bangladesh, the full vaccination coverage is now 82.3 percent, life expectancy is more than 72.8 years while fertility rate per woman has dropped to 2.1. “We’ve made commendable success in the elimination of tuberculosis and leprosy," she said.

The Prime Minister said the government has already integrated the health-related SDG targets into the long-term development plans.

"Our ‘Visions 2021’ and 2041’ have given top priority to health security. As per our election manifesto 2018, we are planning to expand the universal health coverage even further and make health service free for child under one year and for elders over 65 years," she said.