The High-Level Meeting on UHC provides an important opportunity to recommit to the achievement of universal health coverage and to drive action at the country level.
All people have the right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. Efforts towards UHC provide a pathway to ensure that right is met for all people, irrespective of age, gender, disability or any other status. HelpAge International commends WHO on its commitment to universal health coverage, and Member States on their progress to date. However, as the Director General’s report makes clear, there is still much to do.
Efforts to monitor UHC are flawed. Despite commitments for the SDG indicators to be disaggregated by income, sex, age, race, ethnicity, disability, geographical location and migratory status at a minimum, WHO and the World Bank have recognised the lack of disaggregation in the UHC indicators as a limitation and a key area for future work. Current efforts to monitor progress on UHC exclude older people. Tracer interventions monitored for SDG indicator 3.8.1 on coverage, include services for hypertension and diabetes, two conditions common in older age. The source of data is the STEPS survey which excludes people over the age of 64 or 69. A significant proportion of the older population is not being counted.
For UHC to be achieved, older people must be included. HelpAge calls on WHO and Member States to:
• Develop models of UHC that are holistic and person-centred
• Ensure essential health service packages include those most needed to address health challenges common in older age
• Respond to specific income insecurity issues in older age to ensure affordability of services
• Remove upper age caps from data sources underpinning efforts to monitor UHC