Let’s Chat: How to Make UHC a Reality for Everyone, Everywhere

This blog post was written by the Center for Global Development (CGD) Global Health Policy Team as part of GHC’s Member Spotlight Series. The post is adapted from a World Health Day preview first posted on CGD’s Global Health Policy blog on April 5. You can check out the original post here and highlights from the Twitter chat hereThe Center for Global Development works to reduce global poverty and inequality through rigorous research and active engagement with the policy community to make the world a more prosperous, just, and safe place for all. They are a 2018 Global Health Council member.

On the eve of World Health Day, GHC and CGD co-hosted a Twitter Chat on how we can work together to improve access to comprehensive, quality health care services in the developing world. Over the course of the hour, participants were asked questions like, “What are key levers to improve efficiency in health systems on the journey towards UHC?” and “How do we change the narrative and view women as drivers of change in global health, not only as beneficiaries?” in a discussion moderated by CGD COO and Senior Fellow Amanda Glassman and GHC President and Executive Director Loyce Pace. You can find key moments and takeaways from the #HealthForAll chat here.

Each year, millions of people fall into poverty because they have to pay out of pocket for medical care. At least half of the world’s population does not have access to essential health services. Universal health coverage (UHC) is the goal of ensuring that everyone, everywhere can access quality health services without the risk of financial hardship.

We can make UHC happen in our lifetime by targeting investments and incentives on the highest impact interventions among the most affected populations in developing countries. Countries at all income levels are proving that UHC can be both achievable and affordable. However, current global funding has leveled off while the need for life-saving services and products has not. Governments and global health funders need to do more with existing resources.

We at CGD have been advocating for UHC for years, using evidence-based research to inform our policy recommendations. We’ve hosted events, convened working groups, contributed to the creation of international networks, produced podcasts, and written extensively on UHC’s potential—when done in an evidence-based, ethical way—to improve both the equity and reach of global healthcare. From our Twitter Chat, we are excited to be reminded that many of you feel the same way.

What’s In, What’s Out. A recent CGD publication that serves as a guidebook for the creation of health benefits plans to promote universal health care.

Last week, we hosted a breakout session at the World Bank’s Third Annual UHC Financing Forum, which examined the role of health commodity procurement as a core element of equitable and universal health coverage. In the coming months, we will continue our work in UHC by highlighting three areas that will impact efficiency and achieve more health for the same amount of money, particularly in low- and middle-income countries:

1) Adoption of an explicit, evidence-based Health Benefits Package—a defined list of services that are and are not subsidized—is essential in creating a sustainable UHC system. It is key to evaluate how much health an intervention will buy for each dollar.
2) Better data and performance verification—combined with results-based funding—is a powerful instrument for UHC mechanisms. There is the potential to improve the efficiency of the health system and increase the productivity of health workers, while ensuring quality, equitable services at an affordable cost.
3) More systematic use of health technology assessment of the comparative effectiveness and costs of health technologies will provide the economic and clinical evidence needed for decisions about what products to purchase to achieve greater impact for money spent.

World Health Day kicked off a drumbeat of activities that will focus on increasing political will to advance health for all. The series of events include: the 71st World Health Assembly (WHA) in May, the United Nations General Assembly in September, and the marking of the 40th anniversary of the Alma-Ata Declaration in October in Almaty, Kazakhstan. It is anticipated that a new Alma-Ata Declaration will be set in motion and adopted at the WHA in 2019. These moments provide an opportunity to help shape and accelerate the UHC agenda.

We hope you will join us in our continued work on UHC. All of your thoughts and comments are welcome.