The Many Paths Towards Universal Health Coverage: WHO Video Review

This post was written by Niniola Soleye.

Universal health care (UHC) is a hot topic in global health right now. The United Nations, World Health Organization (WHO), and World Bank have all endorsed UHC. Further, UHC has played a prominent role in discussions on the Sustainable Development Goals, which will build on the Millennium Development Goals and support the post-2015 development agenda. The WHO put together a video to explain UHC and show how some countries are providing universal access to basic health care services.

As Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO said in the video, “Universal health coverage is the most powerful concept that public health has to offer.” The key to UHC is that it allows for equity within a health system. It guarantees health care to all members of a population and overcomes the challenges of unavailable or unaffordable services, which is often the case in modern health care settings.

The video highlights UHC in six countries – China, Oman, Mexico, Rwanda, Thailand, and Turkey. It shows how each country is addressing their health care system and making progress towards UHC.

I found it very interesting to see the differences between each country. It really drove home the point that there is no single UHC approach or model that will work for every country. The journey towards UHC is unique and varied. For example, in China the emphasis is on how to cover as many people as possible. In Oman, the focus is on access because their population, while small, is widely dispersed throughout the country. Mexico, Thailand, and Turkey are working on expanding the type and quality of services provided, while Rwanda has increased coverage from 7% to 97% in the last decade.

The main takeaways from the ten-minute video are the importance and benefits of UHC, the challenges in implementing it, and the various models that allow countries to work towards providing basic primary care to everyone.

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