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“Universal Health Coverage is not just desirable, but achievable” says former head of WHO

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“Universal Health Coverage is not just desirable, but achievable” says former head of WHO

Former Prime Minister of Norway Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland supports view that Universal Health Coverage is the key to achieving overall health sustainability in The BMJ today.

The new Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Tedros Adhamon stated he will “work tirelessly” to fulfill the promise of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). Adhamon made this statement throughout his election campaign, to which he also added “Universal Health Coverage is a matter of political achievement and we have to ensure political commitment if we are going to achieve it”.

“I applaud his vision and ambition” says Brundtland, who has also served as WHO Director-General and is currently Deputy Chair of The Elders, a group that was set up by Nelson Mandela, with the goal of working for peace and human rights.

“This is an extremely important message for the global health community, which often tends to overlook the politics of health reforms in preferring to focus on technical solutions,” she adds.

Extending health coverage is an “inherent process”, especially when it comes to creating an equitable health financing system, Brundtland comments. She continues to remark that UHC “can only be reached through public financing where the state has a big role in raising revenues fairly, according to people’s ability to pay and allocating pooled resources according to health needs.”

Overcoming opposition to a public health system and launching successful UHC reforms therefore requires a large investment of public financing and political capital by the government, she suggests.

She points out that UHC brings economic benefits to countries in accelerating economic growth and eliminating impoverishment due to health costs.

UHC is also popular with the majority of the population. Latest market research indicates that 60% of the population in the United States would like to adopt a publicly financed health system as they value being permanently protected from the financial risks of unexpected healthcare costs.

“What matters is that health outcomes are improved” says Brundtland. “We therefore look forward to working with the new WHO Director-General over the coming years to generate political commitment for UHC and bring the world closer to achieving the health sustainable development goal by 2030” she concludes.

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