UN calls for strengthening universal health coverage

Stressing that Covid 19 pandemic has opened up the importance of strong public health systems and emergency preparedness for communities and economies globally, the United Nations has called for greater investments in universal health coverage.

Launching the latest policy brief “Covid-19 and Universal Health coverage’ ”, Secretary general Antonio Guterres called on everyone to draw “hard lessons” from the pandemic, for which the world was not prepared.

He said that one of the lessons was that under investment in health can have a devastating impact on societies and economies. The pandemic has brought to light the inadequate health systems, the large gaps in social protection and major structural inequalities within and between countries, Guterres said.

He stressed; “Covid-19 has shown that universal health coverage, strong public health systems and emergency preparedness are essential to communities, to economies, to everyone.”

Healthcare and financial status

Half of the world’s population do not have full coverage of essential health services despite health being a fundamental human right and universal health coverage (UHC) a key target for the Sustainable Development Goals, Over 800 million people spend at least 10 per cent of their household budgets to pay for health services.

The UN Chief noted that governments should increase investments in common goods for health, including surveillance and risk communication, as well as making public health programmes inclusive and equitable, without financial barriers.

He stressed that treatment should not depend on financial status of the people.  \

Policy brief recommendations

  • Control further transmission:
  1. Strengthening public health measures to reduce local COVID-19 transmission to zero.
  2. Making universal provision for COVID-19 testing, isolating and contact tracing.
  3. Ensuring access to care for COVID-19 patients to reduce number of deaths.
  • Protect delivery of other essential services;

Minimize morbidity and mortality, priority health services need to continue to be delivered during the acute phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Expanding the access to new rapid diagnostics and treatment and ensure Covid vaccines are available for everyone;
  1. Global approach to ensuring equitable access to new COVID-19 tools by fully funding the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-Accelerator)
  2. Urgently address the spread of misinformation and false rumours about vaccine safety.
  • Universal health Coverage:
  1. Investment in core health systems functions that are fundamental to protecting and promoting health and well-being,
  2. Suspend user fees for COVID-19 and other essential health care.
  • Strengthening national and global pandemic preparedness


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