Message of WKC Director for International Universal Health Coverage Day 2020

This International Universal Health Coverage Day on 12 December finds the world in a crisis. The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has exposed inadequate health systems, gaps in social protection and inequalities. It has highlighted the importance of basic public health, strong health systems and emergency preparedness.

Universal health coverage (UHC) means that all people have access to the health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. The theme this year is “Health for all: protect everyone.” This means everyone - no matter their age, gender or ability - has a right to health care. Health for all is not wishful thinking. It is the basis of stable, equitable and peaceful societies that protect everyone.

COVID-19 and health emergencies disproportionately affect older people, those with multiple health problems and those who can least afford it.  A WHO survey found that COVID-19 disrupted essential health services in 90% of countries studied, including services for immunizations, chronic diseases, mental health and others. Better investments in resilient health systems will ensure that a crisis doesn’t derail progress ever again.

Primary health providers, such as nurses, midwives and community health workers, are the backbone of health systems. They are critical partners in driving health for all, bringing care directly to the people that need it most. Health for all means supporting them by ensuring they are first in line for treatment and a future vaccine so that they can provide health care. 

The WHO Centre for Health Development (Kobe Centre (WKC)) makes available accurate, scientific information accessible to professionals and the public in Hyogo Prefecture through translations of technical guidance and general information documents.

Safe and effective vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics are vital for ending the pandemic, but will only be effective if they are available to those most vulnerable, in all countries. Over 180 countries have joined the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) facility to ensure equitable global vaccine delivery. The pandemic isn’t over anywhere until it’s over everywhere.

We all must work together to ensure no one is left behind this UHC Day and every day going forward.