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PAHO prepares for UN High-level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage in the C'bean

Sunday, September 22, 2019

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WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) — The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says it is preparing for a United Nations' High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage in the region. 

PAHO said Monday's meeting — “Universal Health Coverage: Moving Together to Build a Healthier World”, will mobilise political support at the “highest-level” to ensure that all people receive the health care and protection they need. 

PAHO said its delegation, which will be led by its director Dr Carissa F Etienne, “will contribute the vast experience of the organisation in working towards universal health in the region.” 

“Not only does PAHO advocate for the principle of universal health coverage, but we also call for concrete policy development and implementation to break down the persistent barriers that prevent people from receiving access to comprehensive health care,” Dr Etienne said. 

In 2014, PAHO said the Americas, including the Caribbean, adopted a resolution to advance towards universal access to health and universal health coverage. 

According to PAHO, the strategy addresses the inequities in access to health systems and services that prevent people from enjoying optimal health.

Currently, it is estimated that 30 per cent of the population of the Americas lack access to the health care they need and the barriers that prevent such access include financial, geographical, institutional, social and cultural, “which constitute the main impediments to equity, health and development in the 21st Century.”

PAHO said public expenditure in health is on average, with countries of the region investing 4.2 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), less than the six per cent minimum recommended by PAHO.

In 2017, PAHO said it created the High-level Commission “Universal Health in the XXI Century: 40 years of Alma-Ata,” chaired by Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile, and Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of Americas States (OAS), Nestor Mendez. 

The commission prepared a report that emphasises that achieving “Health for All” will only be possible by ensuring the right to health, models of care that are based on Primary Health Care (PHC), effective financing, multisectoral collaboration, social participation, and eliminating barriers to access, PAHO said.

In April year,  Dr Etienne launched in Mexico City the “Regional Compact on Primary Health Care for Universal Health: PHC 30-30-30” alongside the President of Mexico, Andrés Manuel Lopez-Obrador. 

This compact calls for the transformation of health systems based on PHC, establishes goals to eliminate barriers to health that impedes access to health, and calls for increase funding by 30 per cent to the first level of care by 2030.

“Universal access to health and universal health coverage imply that all people and communities have access, without any kind of discrimination, to comprehensive, appropriate and timely, quality health services determined at the national level according to needs, as well as access to safe, effective, and affordable quality medicines, while ensuring that the use of such services does not expose users to financial difficulties, especially groups in conditions of vulnerability,” PAHO said. 

 


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