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Universal Health Coverage: Protecting the Most Vulnerable

By Doug Trapp and Megan Meline, Abt Global

With the passage of the new Sustainable Developments Goals, Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is quickly becoming the new North Star guiding global health development. UHC means everyone can get quality, affordable health care, even those who are traditionally marginalized or vulnerable.

UHC also was an item of discussion during the Group of Seven (G7) nations’ summit in Japan in May.

“Strengthening health systems is a key step in the journey toward universal health coverage,” said Bob Fryatt, HFG Project director and Abt principal associate. “And strong health systems are the front line defense against disease.”

USAID’s Health Finance and Governance (HFG) Project, led by Abt Global, is supporting many countries’ progress toward UHC. HFG in May published a toolkit designed to increase countries’ awareness of UHC and how it aligns with USAID’s programs. The toolkit includes an annotated bibliography of core UHC publications and a list of frequently asked questions on general concepts in UHC and the role and relevance of UHC in the work of USAID.

The HFG Project also co-sponsored a meeting of experts at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy in 2015. The meeting produced a series of reports and briefs on how countries can progress toward UHC.

Japan’s Leadership in UHC

Japan has achieved UHC and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is a champion of UHC as a way to preserve human security. At the G7 summit, leaders discussed not only the global economy and trade, but also UHC and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Japan Global Health Working Group, which met before the G7 Summit, wrote in a report in The Lancet that “Promoting universal health coverage will help prevent another disease outbreak similar to the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and create robust health systems, capable of withstanding future shocks. Robust health systems, in turn, are the prerequisites for achieving UHC.”

HFG spoke with Dr. Gavin Yamey – a member of the Japan working group and a professor at the Duke Global Health Institute – about the growing global push for UHC. Dr. Yamey also attended the Bellagio Center meeting.

Read the interview with Dr. Yamey.

Learn more about the Health Finance and Governance Project.
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