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Universal Health Coverage Day: “Keep the promise”

The importance of having universal health coverage in a world where more than half of the world’s population still do not have coverage of essential health services.

On December 12, 2012, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution (PDF) urging countries to provide quality, affordable health care to all and everywhere. In 2017, the 12 December was proclaimed International Universal Health Coverage Day.

Why is this important? Universal health coverage is a pillar for sustainable development and global security, it has been included in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO):

  • At least half of the world’s population still do not have full coverage of essential health services.

  • About 100 million people are still being pushed into extreme poverty (defined as living on 1.90$ or less a day) because they have to pay for health care.

  • Over 800 million people (almost 12% of the world’s population) spent at least 10% of their household budgets to pay for health care.

As the WHO points out, "in the context of universal health coverage, the term 'universal' means 'for all', without discrimination and without anyone being excluded. All people, anywhere in the world, have the right to benefit from the health services they need without falling into poverty when they use them."

In order to make real the agreement of all UN Member States to try to achieve universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030 (as part of the Sustainable Development Goals), this year the UHC Day campaign is “Keep the promise”, to keep holding leaders, our health systems and ourselves accountable to the promise of health for all.

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