World Health Day 2019: Prof Vivekanand Jha on Universal Health Coverage

Prof Vivekanand Jha, Executive Director, The George Institute for Global Health India on Universal Health Coverage on the occasion of World Health Day, 7th April 2019

"The theme of World Health Day this year is Universal Health Coverage. Universal health coverage cannot become a reality unless we address issues of equity, quality and access to essential healthcare. Inequity entails a failure to avoid or overcome inequalities that infringe on fairness and human rights norms. Equity in healthcare delivery requires us to develop systems and mechanisms to identify the people who are being left out of the health care system and bring quality care to their doorsteps. Of note, women’s health should receive the priority it deserves, and the current paternalistic approach limited to providing care for reproductive issues should extend to a life-course approach where we take care of the entire person for a range of health conditions."      

"Primary health care should become affordable and accessible to all. A population-based approach which not only screens people for high-risk conditions but also ensures that people get treatment at healthcare facilities near to their home should be put in place." 

"2018 WHO Tallinn charter calls for countries to include, invest, and innovate to improve primary care delivery. Technology is a great enabler and can ensure that the front-line health care workers and doctors in primary health centres share tasks efficiently resulting in a more inclusive, equitable and affordable health system. At the same time, behaviour change strategies that target individuals so that they first seek treatment and then adhere to the treatment plan along with policy and systems change to ensure availability of best quality care in primary health settings is crucial.  Addressing the social determinants of health and ensuring that public health is not compromised because of lack of clean drinking water, sanitation and hygiene can go a long way in creating a strong foundation of Universal Health Coverage where prevention becomes the key."