Universal Health Coverage (UHC) endorsed by the World Health Assembly through a resolution in 2005 is defined as access for all to appropriate health services at an affordable cost. UHC as a goal of health policy has gained wide acceptance at the global and country levels since the publication of the World Health Report 2010 and is seen as a critical component of sustainable development for a country. Support for UHC, ensuring that “all people obtain the health services they need, of good quality, without suffering financial hardship when paying for them” is fast gaining momentum.
On 12 December 2012, the United Nations (UN) endorsed a landmark resolution urging all countries to provide universal access to healthcare without financial hardship. After finishing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, the UN has enshrined UHC as a cornerstone of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). UHC day was celebrated for the first time on 12 December 2014, in solidarity for health for all, everywhere. Currently, 106 heads of state and ministers are on the record championing UHC and in recent UN High-Level Meeting on UHC held in September 2019, they reaffirm their commitment to achieving ‘Health for All’. The theme of this year’s celebrations is “KEEP THE PROMISE”, to keep holding leaders, our health systems, and ourselves accountable to this promise. This is a call to the world leaders to ‘Keep the Promise’ they made at the recent meeting and achieve ‘Health For All’ by 2030.A global movement for UHC is underway, as illustrated by an increasing number of nations working towards achieving UHC. This has been strongly recommended by international bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO), World Bank (WB), and has been adopted by several low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). In limited resources settings, UHC for primary health care services has been acknowledged as a wise investment to improve the health status of the country. This has also been considered as a strong mechanism to facilitate the quality of comprehensive healthcare for all people at an affordable cost. More than 100 LMICs, home to almost 3/4 of the world’s population, have taken steps to deliver UHC. Bangladesh in its development planning had always prioritized focus on making public health services available and accessible to all citizens of the country. Since the mid-1980s, the country made remarkable progress in the health sector, especially the maternal and child mortality rate has dropped significantly. Improved life expectancy, immunization coverage, tuberculosis, and diarrhea control are also part of this remarkable success story, still, the country is not well prepared for UHC. However, following the Prime Minister’s commitment to achieving UHC at the 64th World Health Assembly in Geneva in May 2011 the country is now incorporated UHC in the 4th Health, Nutrition and Population (HNP) sector program for the period of five years (July 2016 to June 2021). As the global community has spoken UHC is the right investment, our generation has an unprecedented opportunity to make the poor as healthy as the rich. This requires efficient health systems that provide the entire population with access to good quality services, health workers, medicines, and technologies. It also requires a financing system to protect people from financial hardship, and impoverishment from catastrophic health expenditures. UHC is not something that can be achieved overnight, but the strong commitment and governance, appropriate policies and strategies, and collective efforts are fundamental to strengthen the journey towards UHC.
Md. Tarek Hossain
USAID’s RMD Project
Maternal and Child Health Divisionicddr,b
Cell: +88 019 12147121
E-mail: [email protected]