Earlier this fall, my oldest son invited me to watch him run his first half marathon in Durham, North Carolina. While standing at the starting line, facing hundreds of runners of different ages, I could not help but be amazed by the irony of the situation: In the midst of a region in the United States known as “tobacco road,” there was tangible evidence of a significant, healthier turn in people’s norms and behaviors.
It’s that time of year again, when we observe a day dedicated to the most ambitious health goal of all: universal health coverage, or UHC. On UHC Day (Dec. 12) we commemorate the date in 2012 when the United Nations unanimously endorsed a resolution urging governments to ensure that all people can access health care without financial hardship.
Universal health coverage, a pillar of sustainable development, is highlighted in Agenda 2030, to promote health and well-being for all. Propelled by the United Nations and global partners, the universal health coverage movement has gained momentum, calling on countries to scale up efforts so that every person—but especially the disenfranchised and most vulnerable amongst us—can access affordable, quality care.
Stuffed animals line the window sill, toys crowd the room’s perimeter, children’s crayon drawings depict a loss of childhood.
We are writing this from Pretoria, at the seventh African Population Conference (APC) jointly hosted by the government of South Africa and the Union for African Population Studies (UAPS). The conference is convened only once every four years, so this was a rare opportunity for the World Bank Group to engage the region’s academicians and policymakers on the conference’s key theme: Demographic Dividend in Africa: Prospects, Opportunities and Challenges.
This year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, observed December 3, takes as its theme: “Inclusion matters: Access and Empowerment for People of all Abilities.” Under this umbrella, the U.N. and other international agencies urge inclusion of persons with “invisible disabilities” in society and in development efforts.
World AIDS Day 2015 marks an unheralded but profound increase in our response to HIV and other major infectious diseases. In the last year, HIV diagnostics and medicines have made a real step change, as better and cheaper viral load tests and lower-dose, less toxic, more effective and cheaper drugs come to market. Drug costs are at their lowest ever, with generic first-line regimens costing $95-158 per patient per year – a 60-70% reduction from 2007-2014.
With positive signals for fertility decline emerging in sub-Saharan Africa, and development economists debating the potential for African countries to see a “demographic dividend,” it’s a good time to look more closely at the data linking female education and childbearing.
Paul Farmer recently wrote in this space about Essential Surgery, the first volume released of nine expected in the Disease Control Priorities, 3rd edition series. He characterized that book as shining a spotlight on a long-neglected topic in global health and gave these reasons for the neglect: “Prevailing wisdom dictated that the surgical disease burden was too low, surgical expenses too high, and delivery of care too complicated.”
Today, the UN Maternal Mortality Estimation Inter-Agency Group (MMEIG)* released Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2015. It reports that, worldwide, maternal mortality ratio (MMR) declined by almost 44% between 1990 and 2015, from 385 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births to 216.