The pandemic has highlighted the importance of leadership and a multi-sectoral approach – two of the key strengths L4UHC is fostering. But will governments heed the lessons and accelerate UHC’s roll-out?
“COVID-19 reinforces the importance of global health – diseases don’t respect frontiers – so we have to work together, even from a self-interested perspective,” says Professor Sophie Witter, Professor of International Health Financing and Health Systems at the Institute for Global Health and Development at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. “It also forces us to think about UHC in a broader way, in terms of the package of services. UHC is not just about personal curative care, although that is of course important, but also emergency preparedness, prevention, surveillance, vaccine and testing development and other public goods, including social protection’.
“However, these are not always well financed by markets so states have to step in and organise and finance these goods. That was already known but COVID-19 brings this message home very directly.”
As an opinion piece in the British Medical Journal noted, “Those countries with effective universal health coverage, such as South Korea and Singapore, have performed better during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Professor Ilona Kickbusch, of the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, and Dr. Githinji Gitahi, Global CEO, AMREF Health Africa, added in a recent blog for the World Bank: “UHC and health crisis management are two sides of the same coin. We are not alone in this view. In recent years, G7 and G20 leaders have also promoted strong and resilient health systems as vital to making progress toward UHC and ensuring effective health crisis management.”