• April 7th marks WHO’s 70th anniversary. It is also World Health Day.

• In 1948, WHO was founded on the principle that “The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.”

• WHO succeeded the League of Nations' Health Organization.

• Its establishment was approved by the UN Conference in San Francisco, USA in 1945. The WHO Constitution was drafted by a committee, chaired by Dr Brock Chisholm, who became WHO's first Director-General in 1948.

• The Constitution was approved by Member States during the International Health Conference in New York, USA in 1946, signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States and entered into force on 7 April 1948, 70 years ago.

Universal health Coverage (UHC)

• Universal health coverage is more than just health insurance or health care.

• It means ensuring people can get quality health services, where and when they need them, without suffering financial hardship.

• This year, the organization is dedicating World Health Day to one of its founding principles:  that everyone, everywhere, should be able to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health.

• That principle is as valid today as it was in 1948. And it lies at the heart of the Sustainable Development Agenda.

• WHO is calling for Universal Health Coverage: everyone, everywhere.

• Because we know that Universal Health Coverage is feasible. Evidence and experience show that all countries, at all income levels, can make progress with the resources they have.

UHC today

• At least half the world’s people don't receive the essential health services they need.

• About 100 million people are being pushed into extreme poverty (<$1.90 a day) because of  payments for health services.

• Over 800 million people (almost 12 percent of the world’s population) spend at least 10 percent of their household budgets on health expenses for themselves, a sick child or other family member.

• Without UHC, billions of people are at risk of losing the opportunity to live full and productive lives.

• Without UHC, there is a greater risk that outbreaks develop into epidemics, undermining global health security.

• Nobody should get sick or die just because they are poor, or because the services they need are too far away.

Advancing towards UHC

• By 2023, the midpoint towards 2030, the world needs to extend essential health coverage to 1 billion more people. For this to happen, political leadership is critical. Robust financing structures are key.

• UHC encompasses all components of the health system. It requires strong health service delivery systems; a robust and motivated health workforce; good health facilities and communications networks; access to effective medicines and technologies; reliable information systems; quality assurance mechanisms, and good governance and legislation.

• But UHC is not a luxury that only rich countries can afford.

• Valuable lessons can be learnt from countries ranging from Botswana to Brazil; India to Iran; Kenya to Kyrgyzstan; and Sri Lanka to the Solomon Islands. Evidence and experience show that all countries, at all income levels, can make progress with the resources they have.

• Countries are approaching UHC in different ways. There’s no single path to UHC. All countries must find their own way, in the context of their own social, political and economic circumstances. But every country can do something to advance UHC.

• Making health services truly universal requires a shift from designing health systems around diseases and institutions towards health services designed around and for people.

• On World Health Day, WHO is encouraging everyone to play a part in the path to UHC, by taking part in a UHC conversations and policy dialogue.

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