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SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 30  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 70-71

Moving toward the universal health coverage: A strategy to expedite health equity


Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication5-Feb-2016

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
3rd Floor, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur - Guduvanchery Main Road, Sembakkam Post, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0972-4958.175861

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  Abstract 

Among the multiple goals set in the field of health for the nations and the general population, ensuring universal health coverage (UHC) is of extreme priority. Globally, it has been anticipated, that by achieving UHC, it will not only help to negate social inequity, but even aid the stakeholders in their mission to ensure sustainable development and minimize poverty, especially in middle- and low-income nations. The findings of a recently released report have suggested that close to 400 million people were devoid of one of the essential health services, and hence there is an indispensable need to expand the reach of health services. In conclusion, the scope of UHC is much more than just health, set with a primary objective of extending quality assured essential health services in order to improve the health standards of the beneficiaries, without compromising the financial status of the family. Thus, by moving toward UHC, it will help nations to achieve equity and social inclusion.

Keywords: Equity, out-of-pocket expenditure, universal health coverage (UHC), World Health Organization


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Moving toward the universal health coverage: A strategy to expedite health equity. J Med Soc 2016;30:70-1

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Moving toward the universal health coverage: A strategy to expedite health equity. J Med Soc [serial online] 2016 [cited 2019 Dec 12];30:70-1. Available from: http://www.jmedsoc.org/text.asp?2016/30/1/70/175861


  Introduction Top


Among the multiple goals set in the field of health for the nations and the general population, ensuring universal health coverage (UHC) is of extreme priority. [1] UHC refers to the attainment of a stage when all people will be able to receive the full range of essential and quality assured health services, without being exposed to any economic deprivation while availing them. [2] This goal has been set, as health is recognized as a fundamental human right and it is the responsibility of the State to ensure the highest possible level of health for all. [1],[2]


  Universal Health Coverage will Achieve What? Top


By achieving UHC, a direct impact on a population's health in terms of their enhanced productivity and active contribution to their family and society has been observed. [3] Further, by minimizing excessive financial expenditure on health, the eventual risk of families landing into economic deprivation can be averted as well. [3],[4] In addition, it will not only help to negate social inequity, but even aid the stakeholders in their mission to ensure sustainable development and minimize poverty, especially in middle- and low-income nations. [5]

At the same time, it is extremely important to understand that UHC emphasizes not only on the range of services covered but also in the manner in which they are covered (viz., whether the services are people-centric or whether integrated health services are delivered to people). [4] In fact, a series of myths (such as UHC is nothing but health financing, or is only restricted to a package of health services, or free coverage for all possible health interventions) have persisted in heterogeneous settings that are ultimately preventing the expansion of services toward the accomplishment of UHC. [3],[4],[6],[7]


  Current Status Top


Findings of a recently released report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank have suggested that across the globe in the year 2013, close to 400 million people were devoid of one of the essential health services [viz., family planning, maternal and child health care, treatment for tuberculosis (TB) or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and access to clean water and sanitation]. [3] In addition, every year, more than one billion people suffer because of their inability to access the desired health services. [4] Further, it has been revealed that almost 6% of the people in low- and middle-income nations are pushed below the poverty line because of their health-related out-of-pocket expenditure. [3] These are alarming findings and clearly reflect that there is an indispensable need to expand the reach of health services so that health interests of vulnerable sections of the community can be adequately addressed. [3]


  Suggested Measures Top


Although it is a fact that UHC cannot be achieved worldwide overnight, nevertheless, the need of the hour is to take appropriate and effective measures to expedite the progress toward the same, and at the same time to sustain the achieved gains. [3],[4] This is important, as most of the governments who had achieved UHC in the past are facing multiple challenges to address the concerns of ever-growing health needs and rising expenses on health. [3],[8] However, in order to achieve UHC, it is very essential to build a strong, efficient, well-functioning health system; a mechanism to ensure continuous financial support and to minimize out-of-pocket expenditure on health (through prepayment and pooling), so that beneficiaries are never exposed to financial distress; prompt access to diagnostic and therapeutic interventions; adequate and trained workforce of health personnel; and a strategy to inform and encourage people to stay healthy and prevent illness. [2],[4]

Furthermore, it is crucial to have a mechanism to ensure rigorous monitoring about the coverage of health services, financial risk protection, and equity for the entire population. [1] In addition, a periodic appraisal of other resources such as health workforce, drugs, or other logistics should be done as well. [2] From a nation's perspective, monitoring deserves a lot of importance, as it not only varies depending on the country-specific needs but also provides an opportunity to compare the indices globally. [1],[3] Over the years, WHO has assisted nations to strengthen their health systems and in providing technical assistance in different facets of the goal to achieve UHC. [4] For instance, WHO is working with 19 European nations under an agreement to enhance the capacity of the nations to formulate and implement holistic national health strategies to achieve UHC. [9] In addition, a new global coalition has been developed (consisting of more than 500 organizations working in the field of health), to encourage policy makers to genuinely target the goal of UHC. [10]


  Conclusion Top


In conclusion, the scope of UHC is much more than just health, set with a primary objective of extending quality assured essential health services in order to improve the health standards of the beneficiaries, without compromising the financial status of the family. Thus, by moving toward UHC, it will help nations to achieve equity and social inclusion.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
Boerma T, Eozenou P, Evans D, Evans T, Kieny MP, Wagstaff A. Monitoring progress towards universal health coverage at country and global levels. PLoS Med 2014;11:e1001731.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
World Health Organization. What is Universal Health Coverage? 2015. Available from: http://who.int/universal_health_coverage/en/#story-narrow-03. [Last accessed on 2015 Oct 22].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
World Health Organization. The World Bank. Tracking Universal Health Coverage: First Global Monitoring Report. Geneva: WHO Press; 2015. p. 1-13.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
World Health Organization. Universal Health Coverage - Fact Sheet N°395; 2014. Available from: http://who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs395/en/. [Last accessed on 2015 Oct 19].  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Tangcharoensathien V, Mills A, Palu T. Accelerating health equity: The key role of universal health coverage in the sustainable development goals. BMC Med 2015;13:101.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Uzochukwu B, Ughasoro MD, Etiaba E, Okwuosa C, Envuladu E, Onwujekwe OE. Health care financing in Nigeria: Implications for achieving universal health coverage. Niger J Clin Pract 2015;18: 437-44.  Back to cited text no. 6
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7.
Karamagi H, Dovlo D. Can extended cost-effectiveness analysis guide the scale-up of essential health services towards universal health coverage? Lancet Glob Health 2015;3:e247-8.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.
Mathur MR, Reddy KS, Millett C. Will India′s national health policy deliver universal health coverage? BMJ 2015;350:h2912.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.
World Health Organization. Increasing Country Capacities for Universal Health Coverage (UHC). 2014. Available from: http://who.int/universal_health_coverage/en/. [Last accessed on 2015 Oct 22].  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.
World Health Organization. Global Coalition Calls for Acceleration of Access to Universal Health Coverage. 2015. Available from: http://who.int/universal_health_coverage/en/. [Last accessed on 2015 Oct 19].  Back to cited text no. 10
    




 

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Abstract
Introduction
Universal Health...
Current Status
Suggested Measures
Conclusion
References

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