Published on Investing in Health

Equity Is a Must on the Road to Universal Health Coverage

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Many countries around the world are working to ensure that all people can access the quality health services they need without suffering financial hardship. Countries have committed to reaching universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030 as part of the global Sustainable Development Goals.

However, recent evidence from countries undertaking these reforms shows that while countries are often able to make strides in expanding health coverage and financial protection, inequities can persist and even widen on the path to UHC when an equity lens is not applied to reforms.
To help address this issue, ministers of health and finance, along with academics and other partners, are gathering this week for the Third Annual Universal Health Coverage Financing Forum (AUHCFF). With participants from 65 countries in attendance, the two-day forum, which takes place on April 19 to 20, will engage these critical policymakers in sharing country experiences and proposing solutions to best mobilize resources and shape health financing to achieve equity and access to health services.
By bringing the finance and health sectors together, the AUHCFF, which is co-hosted by the World Bank Group and USAID, creates one of the only global spaces that convenes key actors to help accelerate progress in countries towards sustainable financing for the expansion of health services and access.
With less than 5,000 days left to go to achieve the global target on UHC, current progress is too slow. As countries determine how best to accelerate progress, they must also take into consideration that improving health outcomes will require that poor and marginalized populations have access to good quality services with a minimized burden of out-of-pocket spending. By ensuring a sustained equitable approach to financing health services, countries on the path toward UHC will also be on a path toward self-reliance.
However, this may require policymakers to balance decisions between improving equity and other objectives, such as improving efficiency, population health, stimulating employment or economic growth. The AUHCFF will provide an opportunity to discuss and explore how health financing can achieve equity on the road to UHC. It will shine a spotlight on UHC reforms, including public and private sector approaches, that aim to achieve the equitable distribution for financing health services as well as the equitable use of services based on health needs.
This year’s Forum builds on two previous UHC financing forums. The first Forum in 2016 focused on resource mobilization and how to generate revenue, through country-driven means, to meet the needs of populations for good quality health services and financial protection. The second Forum in 2017 debated strategic policies and practical interventions to help governments use health system resources more efficiently.

The Third Annual Universal Health Coverage Financing Forum (AUHCFF) will take place on April 19 to 20, 2018, at the Washington Hilton Hotel. Follow the conversation on Twitter at #UHCfinance. For more information visit the Forum’s website.


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