Universal Health Coverage Day: What You Should Know

Quality healthcare is a necessary component of any country or state  and it needs to be made easily accessible as well as affordable for every citizen. Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day was instituted to raise awareness about the need for an unbiased healthcare system that provides access to basic health care needs to everyone that requires it. On the UHC day, activists call upon leaders to promote initiatives that tackle poor health management facilities so that everyone can avail equitable and accessible healthcare.

Today, we discuss what UHC is and how it has been helping to change the world for the better.

Why Was Universal Health Coverage Day Instituted

Initiated with an endorsement by the United Nations in 2012 and officially designated in 2017, the Universal Health Coverage Day has come to be commemorated every year on the 12th of December. All member nations of the United Nations observe the UHC Day officially on this day and have even made pacts to achieve universal health coverage by the end of this decade – that is, by 2030. A theme is generally associated with the UHC Day each year and 2021 is no different. This year, the theme is – “Leave No One’s Health Behind: Invest in Health Systems for All”. 

The Universal Health Coverage Day has become synonymous with the popular “healthcare for all” campaign around the world. The day is one where everyone rallies together to raise awareness about the need for universal access to quality healthcare. One of the most basic rights of a human being is access to health care and this is the point that the UHC Day drives home year after year. By raising awareness about the need for a robust, universal, and equitable healthcare infrastructure, attracting investments to protect the health of people from the lower rungs of society, and by sharing the stories of millions of people that lack access to healthcare to promote the need for it, the UHC Day tries to highlight the importance of universal health coverage.

Why Health Coverage Is Important For All

The biggest asset of any country is its population and every individual’s greatest asset is their own good health. Therefore, it is important for a country or a state to ensure the well-being of their citizens by creating large-scale healthcare plans that help each and every individual to avail quality health services. Universal healthcare coverage translates to fair and equal access to healthcare services without distinction for all. With UHC, everyone can access skilled healthcare providers and services, without the need to worry about costs and other strings attached. The importance of Universal healthcare coverage is listed below.

  • Helps to improve immunization drives
  • Raises awareness about diseases, especially those that are transmitted sexually or through personal contact
  • Propagates scientific methods and practices
  • Improves childcare, raise the general standards of living
  • Improves mental health
  • Helps to end diseases that have been around for a long time but could be controlled through safe practices.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of having universal healthcare coverage. During the initial waves of the pandemic, a majority of the people from economically weaker sections had to fight tooth and nail to obtain basic medical facilities, while the affluent had access to multi-specialty care. The disparity was very showing and began to severely affect the economically-marginalized sections of society with little to no help offered by others. As the pandemic progressed, the need for an equitable healthcare system was being promulgated by independent organisations and healthcare experts. Avoiding such scenarios has been the primary objective of the proponents of universal health coverage. While these issues are far from new, they highlight the need for equal healthcare coverage. To fight future pandemics, it is necessary that we prioritize equity by investing more in public health and medical research. By instituting equitable medical infrastructures, we ensure that our future is safe and healthy.   

What Are The Benefits Of Having Health Coverage For All

Universal healthcare coverage is more of a necessity than just a PR stunt. It protects everyone. UHC’s importance can only be understood when we consider the disproportionately large section of people that lack access to even the most basic of healthcare services.  The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the importance of having a robust healthcare system and has highlighted the urgency with which healthcare systems need to adapt to changing environments.

With a large number of countries facing a potential third wave due to the latest variant that causes COVID-19, the need for robust healthcare systems with ample medical supplies are the need of the hour.  The UHC partnership has been promoting this very cause for years. As more people gain access to healthcare and medical assistance, it is possible to battle pandemics such as this and reduce the overall mortality. By introducing universal healthcare, it is possible to eradicate diseases, achieve greater access to health services, reduce poverty and to ensure that each and every human being is provided the right to health.

What Are The Actions Taken By WHO And Member Nations To Achieve 100% Health Coverage For The World’s Population

The UHC partnership is an initiative that is supported and funded by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is primarily an international cooperation for promoting universal healthcare coverage. The initiative is focused on providing support, both in terms of finance as well as resources, to countries that require it to build healthcare infrastructures that can cater to their population. The UHC partnership has been playing a pivotal role in easing the lives of people across the world as we face the pandemic. Some of the defining roles that are played by the UHC partnership to achieve universal coverage of health are listed below.

  • Providing mental health care to people, especially to those that have been largely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Ensuring that everyone gets equal access to primary health care
  • Making sure that the people from lower economic background do not face the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Supporting governments in the management, procurement, and distribution of medicines, vaccines and others across all rungs of society
  • Raising awareness about the importance of medicines and scientific practises
  • Thwarting age-old traditions that are seeped in unscientific practices
  • Instituting public health interventions and community health centres at places that lack basic facilities
  • Improving the responsiveness and resilience of existing healthcare systems

The UHC partnership has been supported by many countries and some of them have been actively funding the initiative. A few of the major funding sources for the UHC partnership include the European Union, the Government of Japan – Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, Irish Aid, Canada, and Germany among others.

In The End…

The need for universal Healthcare is not one that sprouted recently. In fact, economic, racial and cultural bias has existed for as long as human history goes back and this has been a detrimental factor in unifying healthcare. However, with recent advances in terms of political interventions as well as medical breakthroughs, many organisations including the UN and the WHO have managed to break down the barriers that kept those who were marginalized outside the protection of public healthcare. With unbiased and equitable healthcare systems, it is possible for our future to be free of illness and diseases, or at the very least, keep us prepared for what’s in store. We need to understand that it is only with universal health coverage which has the capacity to save others that we can expect to protect ourselves

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