Universal Health Coverage Day: Bridging Gaps for a Healthier World


6 min read

Universal Health Coverage Day is observed every year on December 12 to make sure that people around the world can have access to high-quality health services that they cannot afford because of financial hardships. As a nation, India must invest in health systems to create a healthier and safer future and start providing universal health coverage, which is the urgent need of the hour.

Understanding Universal Health Coverage 

Universal Health Coverage Day is based on principles such as equality, right to health, and non-discrimination, thus making sure that even the most marginalized people can be reached and covered. The primary aim here is to ensure that no one gets left behind. The three dimensions of the program are population coverage, financial protection, and service coverage. Population coverage is linked to equity as in who receives the services, service coverage is linked to the available services, and financial protection ensures that health services do not contribute to financial hardship.

The Importance of Universal Health Coverage

The importance of this international health day  lies in its fundamentality with respect to ensuring social protection in the context of health. All across the world, the poorest people often face the most significant risks related to health and need more services in this regard. Sharing resources is essential in procuring the funding necessary to make universal health coverage a reality.

1. Global Progress and Challenges

As far as universal health care is concerned, between 2000 and 2021, the proportion of people not covered by essential health services decreased by around 15%. However, the progress following 2015 can be described as being minimal. This shows that in 2021, approximately 4.5 billion people around the world were not completely covered by essential health services. By and large, the world needs to catch up when it comes to making significant progress toward the sustainable development goals related to universal health coverage by 2030.

2. Universal Health Coverage Day Origins

The universal health services day was originally promoted by the World Health Organization, which happens to be a part of the United Nations and is also responsible for public health worldwide. In 2012, the General Assembly approved a resolution that urged countries to fast-track their progression towards achieving universal health. The foundation hopes to lay a solid base for the idea that everyone everywhere must have access to quality and affordable healthcare – a vital priority for international development.

3. Current Initiatives and Campaigns 

Everywhere around the world, efforts are being made in some way or another to achieve the goal as much as possible, and this includes universal health coverage in India as well. On September 13, 2023, Droupadi Murmu, the President of India, launched a campaign named Ayushman Bhav as part of achieving the goal of universal health coverage and providing healthcare to everyone in the country. The campaign was launched through the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry via video conferencing.

4. Barriers to Universal Health Coverage  

The international universal health coverage day is celebrated so that universal health coverage can be achieved, but that can only happen when communities and individuals get the health services they need without facing any financial hardships. The truth is that many countries are facing real problems in building health systems whereby affordable and accessible healthcare can be provided to the people, especially in countries such as Liberia and Sierra Leone.

5. Innovations in Healthcare Delivery

The goal of making the universal health insurance scheme come to fruition represents an enormous challenge indeed that is just as complex too. This necessitates the coming together of the expertise of many partners, all of whom must be pulling in the same direction. This means global health innovators coming together and funding programs to create indispensable approaches and tools for meeting the challenge of providing health coverage to all.

6. Community Involvement and Empowerment

Experts on health and health coverage day feel that social movements are the need of the hour for achieving social justice in terms of healthcare, and this can push the ones in power to opt for universal health coverage. Community empowerment will be a vital aspect of these social movements, which is why they are among the most critical prerequisites for achieving and establishing said coverage.

7. Government Policies and Legislation

India is one country that can be called to be at the forefront of achieving the international Universal Health Coverage Day theme, and this is evident in programs such as Ayushman Bharat. The basis over here is an assured range of comprehensive primary care that leads to a robust tertiary and secondary care system, which is to be available in private and public health facilities. However, more significant public investments are also integral to making this approach successful.

8. The Role of Healthcare Professionals

If a country wishes to achieve the goal of universal health coverage, it has to strengthen its primary healthcare system – there can be no two ways about it. This means providing more people with access to primary healthcare facilities, strengthening the primary healthcare workforce, and improving the standard of care being provided to the people. Apart from this, the government also needs to work on improving health insurance coverage, etc.

9. Social Determinants of Health

World Health Organization is rather clear regarding the definition of universal health coverage. It says that universal health coverage means everybody in the world can access the health services that they need without having to endure financial hardships for the same. The governments need to come forward and accentuate the socio-economic development necessary to achieve such goals and also allot the public healthcare sector the funding it needs, as is done in countries such as the UK.

10. Call to Action 

Merely knowing the UHC full form is insufficient – you need to come forward and celebrate it as well, and there are several ways in which you can do so. You can observe the yearly theme the United Nations has in this regard. You can participate in any campaign related to universal health coverage, and is preferable for you. You can also share stats on social media that encourage people to invest in public healthcare improvement.

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There are plenty of barriers to implementing universal health coverage fully and the progress has thus been less than desirable. However, we can come forward and do our bit in this context by celebrating the day, participating in campaigns, and sharing crucial information on social media to generate awareness.

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Nov 27, 2023
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