WHO’s theme for 2019 is Universal Health Coverage and WHO’s rationale for choosing this year’s theme is:
Universal health coverage is WHO’s number one goal. Key to achieving it is ensuring that everyone can obtain the care they need, when they need it, right in the heart of the community. Progress is being made in countries in all regions of the world. But millions of people still have no access at all to health care. Millions more are forced to choose between health care and other daily expenses such as food, clothing and even a home.
Key messages are:
- Health is a human right; it’s time for health for all.
- We know universal health coverage is possible, let’s make it happen!
- Universal health coverage means that all people have access to the quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship.
- At least half of the people in the world do not receive the health services they need.
- About 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty each year because of out-of-pocket spending on health.
- But who are these people and how can we help them? To get a better picture of who is missing out, we need data that is broken down by gender, age, income, location, education and other factors that affect access to health services.
- Health is a human right; everyone should have the information and services they need to take care of their own health and the health of their families.
- Quality, accessible primary health care is the foundation for universal health coverage.
- Unsafe and low-quality health care ruins lives and costs the world trillions of dollars every year, we must do more to improve the quality and safety of health services globally.
- Primary health care should be the first level of contact with the health system, where individuals, families and communities receive most of their health care—from promotion and prevention to treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care—as close as possible to where they live and work.
- At its heart, primary health care is about caring for people and helping them improve their health or maintain their well-being, rather than just treating a single disease or condition.
- Primary health care covers the majority of your health needs throughout your life including services such as screening for health problems, vaccines, information on how to prevent disease, family planning, treatment for long- and short-term conditions, coordination with other levels of care, and rehabilitation.
- Primary health care is a cost-effective and equitable way of delivering health services and helping countries make progress towards universal health coverage.
- A health system with strong primary health care delivers better health outcomes, is cost-efficient and improves quality of care.
- Health workers have a crucial role to play educating patients on how to take care of their health, coordinating care and advocating for their patients’ needs to health facility managers and policy-makers.
- Primary health-care workers have a continuing and trusted relationship with their patients and know their health history; knowing the full picture helps improve their care and saves money.
- Primary health-care workers know the traditions, cultures and practices of their communities, making them indispensable during an outbreak or emergency.
- To make health for all a reality, we need: individuals and communities who have access to high quality health services so that they take care of their own health and the health of their families; skilled health workers providing quality, people-centred care; and policy-makers committed to investing in primary health care.
Amartya Sen in Universal healthcare: the affordable dream – Health – in the Guardian January 6, 2015 – suggested: ‘The usual reason given for not attempting to provide universal healthcare in a country is poverty. The United States, which can certainly afford to provide healthcare at quite a high level for all Americans, is exceptional in terms of the popularity of the view that any kind of public establishment of universal healthcare must somehow involve unacceptable intrusions into private life. There is considerable political complexity in the resistance to UHC in the US, often led by medical business and fed by ideologues who want “the government to be out of our lives”, and also in the systematic cultivation of a deep suspicion of any kind of national health service, as is standard in Europe (“socialised medicine” is now a term of horror in the US).
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