HPM Sheikh Hasina seeks global collaboration for universal health coverage

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Published on September 24, 2019
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Prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday said collaboration among countries at regional and global levels is fundamental to accelerate progress in the Universal Health Coverage.

“Resource mobilisation to ensure Universal Health Coverage is a fundamental obstacle in many countries. Effective global partnership to formulate healthcare financing strategy for each country could be an important tool to achieve UHC and ultimately SDGs by 2030,” she said.

The prime minister said this while addressing 'Multi-stakeholder Panel’ held in parallel to the High-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) on the theme 'UHC as driver of equity, inclusive development and prosperity for all'.

Sheikh Hasina along with her Spanish counterpart Pedro Sánchez co-chaired the programme held at ECOSOC chamber of the UN headquarters.

Prime minister said, "I believe, collaboration amongst countries at regional and global level is fundamental to accelerate progress in Universal Health Coverage.”

"Inclusive development and progress mean two things -- everyone, irrespective of his or her social background, must get equal opportunity; and everyone must have equal access to the common benefit and resources,” she said.

She said only generating growth and creating wealth are not enough for progress and wellbeing unless the access to and distribution of the wealth are just and proper.

“We’ve found out that securing universal health coverage is one of the pre-conditions for establishing a righteous and fair society as our health equates to our existence. While adopting Agenda 2030 in 2015, we committed that all individuals and communities should be able to receive essential health services,” she added.

Although there has been some major progress, half the world's population still lacks access to necessary health services. About 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty each year because of health expenses, and 800 million people spend at least 10 per cent or more of their household budget on healthcare expenses," Sheikh Hasina said.

Noting that equity for all in availing of healthcare is an important issue, she said socio-economically disadvantaged people most often cannot access services from privately-owned health care providers resulting in inequity in overall health care benefits.

The prime minister said lack of equity and absence of inclusive development may bring political instability and serious erosion of social cohesion.

The PM said the equity in healthcare services could be ensured through Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by reaching to the poorest segment of the society with affordable and efficient health services. “We need to ensure that no family is forced into poverty because of health care expenses,” she said.

As stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for his or her health and well-being, she added.

She said 90 per cent of health needs can be met at the primary healthcare level. "Therefore, strong primary healthcare systems can be the first line of defence against communicable and non-communicable diseases."

In Bangladesh, Hasina said, the government has established about 14 thousand ‘community clinics’ across the country to provide primary healthcare to rural areas so that the last one in line can be reached.

The PM said some 40 patients take health services from each community clinic per day and 90 per cent of them are women and children. More than 10 million average visits are made to these community clinics in every month.

Michelle Bachelet, UN high commissioner for human rights; Maha Taysir Barakat, chair of the board of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria; Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International; and Jeffery Sachs, director, Center for Sustainable Development, Colombia University, were the panelists of the event.