On 12 December we celebrate Universal Health Coverage Day because all people should be able to access good quality, needed health services, without facing financial catastrophe.
This year’s theme is “keep the promise” in recognition of the high-level political declaration on UHC made by Heads of State at the United Nations General Assembly in September. This declaration builds on the commitment of African Presidents to increase investment in health – made at the African Union Summit in February.
It is very encouraging to see how this is translating into action. Heads of State in more and more countries are directly driving the UHC agenda and are leading reforms to achieve health for all.
For WHO in the African Region, UHC is a flagship programme. My teams are working with countries to update strategies and action plans to expand available services, reach unreached communities, and improve financial protection.
We are developing trackers to monitor progress at national and local levels to enhance equity and ensure no-one is left behind.
Countries can assess their UHC performance by looking at the WHO UHC service coverage index which includes financial risk protection. The regional average for the index is 46 out of a possible score of 100, compared to a global average of 66. Across African countries, 71 million people are spending over 10% of their household budgets on health care – 17 million are spending over a quarter.
I am inspired by the many partners who are coming on board to work together with governments, communities, WHO, civil society and the private sector, towards UHC. We will help countries address shortages in funding, health workers, essential supplies and get health facilities in the Region functioning at better than the current 49% of their service capacity. We will also advise countries on how to get better value for the money they invest in health, in improved health outcomes.
We do indeed have a lot of work to do, which requires innovative approaches and strong partnership.
So today, I pledge to “keep the promise” and ask our Member States and partners to do the same. Let’s hold each other accountable and accelerate action to make quality health care affordable for everyone, everywhere.
Together, we can achieve universal health coverage.