11 DECEMBER 2015 – On the second annual Universal Health Coverage Day on 12 December 2015, a coalition of more than 700 organizations in 116 countries will come together to say that universal health coverage is right, smart and overdue. The coalition will urge world leaders to deliver on promises to achieve universal health coverage because health is a human right that reduces poverty, fuels economic growth and builds resilience to threats from disease outbreaks to climate change.
On Universal Health Coverage Day 2015, hundreds of millions of people worldwide are still waiting for access to lifesaving health services or fall into poverty paying for needed health care. To address these inequities, more than 100 countries across the income spectrum have begun working toward universal health coverage, increasingly demonstrating its feasibility.
“When The Rockefeller Foundation first began its work to advance universal health coverage, it seemed to many to be a pipedream. Today, we are truly inspired to see how rapidly support for universal health coverage has grown, including its recent recognition in the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Universal health coverage is key to building resilient health systems that make both people and planet healthier in the face the increasingly common shocks and stresses posed by climate change, urbanization and globalization.”
Universal Health Coverage Day, inaugurated by The Rockefeller Foundation, marks the anniversary of the United Nations’ unanimous 2012 resolution urging governments to ensure universal access to quality health care without ﬁnancial hardship.
“Universal health coverage is one of the most powerful social equalizers among all policy options,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). “The global community has recognized this approach as a pro-poor pillar of sustainable development that builds social cohesion and stability – valued assets for every country.”
“Governments have everything to gain when they prioritize human health – it is an investment. I am hopeful for global progress because universal health coverage has been included in the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Minister of Health, Rwanda.
New events and initiatives show growing global momentum to deliver universal health coverage and offer an opportunity to further accelerate progress:
There is increasing evidence that universal health coverage is a smart investment. Earlier this year, The Rockefeller Foundation convened the Economists’ Declaration on Universal Health Coverage, a landmark statement outlining the economic benefits of universal health coverage and calling on policymakers to prioritize it as an essential pillar of sustainable development. More than 300 economists from 44 countries have added their names to the Declaration, including the current and former World Bank chief economists and five Nobel Laureates.
The WHO and World Bank’s first global monitoring report on universal health coverage released in June 2015 found that despite significant worldwide progress on health, 400 million people still lack access to essential health services and 17% of people in low- and middle-income countries are pushed or further pushed into poverty (US$2/day) because of health spending.
“As the gap between rich and poor keeps growing and part-time jobs become more common, we must strengthen the social safety net,” said Dr. Joseph Stiglitz, University Professor at Columbia University and an Economists’ Declaration signatory. “Universal health coverage would give essential protection, and needs to be part of every society.”
In conjunction with Universal Health Coverage Day, a new photography series has launched to document experiences of waiting for health care around the world. The Waiting for Health Project, featuring photographs from 12 noted photographers in 12 countries, puts a face to the hundreds of millions of people who still lack adequate access to health and exposes the vast disparities that remain within and between countries.
Among the stories documented by the photographers in the series are:
Coalition partners are planning more than 50 events in 30 countries to mark Universal Health Coverage Day and urge national leaders to accelerate reforms toward health for all. Highlights include:
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