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December 12, 2019

Universal Health Coverage Day 2019



By Matthew S. Lynch

“The first wealth,” writes transcendentalist author Ralph Waldo Emerson, “is health.”

Good health is foundational to the prosperity of any peoples, an ideal celebrated internationally every December 12th marking the passage of a 2012 United Nations resolution urging countries to accelerate progress toward universal health coverage (UHC). Since then, UHC gradually rose on the global development agenda resulting in an official day recognized in 2017 and a political declaration this year by the UN.

As a global non-profit strengthening health systems in developing countries for their marginalized populations, MCDI is excited about the resurging popularity of UHC and we take today to recommit ourselves to supporting policymakers in realizing UHC. One way MCDI does this is through implementing performance-based financing programs (PBF’s), which increase the autonomy of a country’s health system over its own resources and improve efficiency as it allows them to tailor initiatives to best suit the populations they serve. In Lesotho, for instance, MCDI worked with the country’s Ministry of Health and the World Bank to implement a performance-based financing program (supporting the provision of maternal and newborn healthcare. Through technical assistance helping Lesotho’s Ministry of Health develop a PBF User’s Manuel, we streamlined the process and allowed the project to expand to every district in the country.

In a short time, Lesotho and many other countries in which MCDI works, will experience the economic dividends accompanying universal health coverage. Today, about 210 million people worldwide must spend more than ¼ of their household budget to get the health services they need. This high cost shoves nearly 90 million people into extreme poverty annually. However, by implementing UHC and improving the health of workers, countries can witness between a 20-45% increase in labor productivity and a 4% increase in GDP per capita for every one-year increase in life expectancy.

UHC is a viable tool for transforming the health outcomes of a population and something MCDI helps countries achieve every day. Investing in a population’s health is not only the right choice, but the smart choice for countries to make. Achieving it, however, is only possible when the right stakeholders are engaged. MCDI will work hard to leverage the strengths of civil society, the private sector, communities, and health practitioners to ensure everyone has access to a basic package of essential health services and is protected from experiencing financial hardships to get the care they need.

Matthew S. Lynch is the Assistant Communications Officer for MCDI in the US.





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