International Federation on Ageing
The International Federation on Ageing (IFA) advocates for a world of healthy older people whose rights are protected and respected. Beyond improved health outcomes, the implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) will have profound positive social and economic implications for people of all ages, enabling more people to maintain gainful employment for longer and to avoid catastrophic financial situations and poverty.
To leave no one behind in SDG Target 3.8, UHC implementation must emphasize equitable provision of programmes and services that enable people to promote and maintain their health and functional abilities across the life course. Avoidable losses in intrinsic capacity such as vision, hearing, and cognition are unacceptable, especially if disproportionately experienced by people who cannot afford care. UHC should facilitate access to preventative care in adult life, such as vaccinations, health promotion, and screening and treatment for vision and hearing conditions.
Long-term care (LTC) should also be considered an integral part of comprehensive UHC schemes, especially considering the increasing prevalence of people living with complex comorbidities and decreased functional ability. There is a critical shortage of 13.6 million LTC workers globally and thus a large proportion of people who require quality services, including older persons, lack access. The IFA requests Member States to designate the necessary public funds to finance LTC to reduce out-of-pocket expenditures, address workforce shortages and increase support for informal caregivers.
In preparation for the United Nations High-Level Meeting on UHC this September, the IFA asks Member States to view the adoption of UHC as an opportunity to foster resilience and invest in happier and healthier populations. These benefits can hold true so long as UHC implementation is comprehensive and includes services that reflect the diverse needs of a global ageing population.