In Focus – Holding Governments to Account: The State of Health for All in the US

By Eliana Monteforte, Director of Special Projects, Global Health Council

One of the biggest lessons the world has learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that no country, neither low, middle nor high income, was prepared to prevent and respond to this global health emergency. On September 23, 2019, UN member states and other stakeholders gathered together at the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and committed to “achieve UHC by 2030, with a view to scaling up the global effort to build a healthier world for all”. Now, more than ever, it’s time to hold member states to account for the commitments they made in this bold Political Declaration. 

As part of its most recent grants program, Global Health Council (GHC) and partners have committed to hosting a series of civil society and community focus groups in the United States (US) and globally aimed at capturing the lived experiences marginalized/minority populations’ face in accessing low/no-cost quality healthcare. The focus groups will pay particular attention to the disproportionate social, economic, and health impacts COVID-19 has had on these populations. Most importantly, these sessions will outline the changes that need to be made at the country, regional and global levels to achieve the goal of health for all that Member States committed to in the Sustainable Development Goals and Political Declaration. 

On July 22, 2021, Global Health Council, in partnership with CORE Group and the Civil Society Engagement Mechanism (CSEM) of UHC2030 launched this series of focus groups with its first civil society session aimed at discussing the state of Health for All in the US. The session included participants from various civil society organizations working in health advocacy as well as health practitioners and other healthcare workers. Below are some key themes from the focus group: 

  • There is a lack of coordination, cohesiveness and delineation of authority across US Health agencies such as the CDC, NIH, Department of Health and Human Services etc. 
  • Fragmentation of authority, regulation and implementation of policies across local, state and federal levels has made access to healthcare disproportionate across the country
  • The largest group of people left behind in the US health care system are BIPOC population and those who live in the 12 ACA non-expansion states (where much of the BIPOC live) 
  • The expansion of telehealth has increased health access for some but also negatively impacted those populations without access and knowledge to online tools. 
  • Insurance inequities impact people’s ability to access quality healthcare particularly for the unemployed 
  • Lack of trust in the healthcare system (particularly among minority populations) has contributed to the spread of health misinformation
  • NGOs, CSOs, donors, governments and other groups should give marginalized groups access to platforms, policymakers and other influential stakeholders to advocate for better health  

GHC will be continuing this series of focus groups with black, Latino, LGBTQI+, Indigenous/First National, Youth, Women and Asian communities. GHC will use results from the focus group series to ensure policymakers take into consideration the voices of civil society and communities as they continue to respond and recover from the pandemic. If you are interested in joining these discussions, please contact Eliana Monteforte, Director of Special Projects at GHC (emonteforte@globalhealth.org).

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