On 12 December 2017, the United Nations officially designated 12 December as the International Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day to commemorate the endorsement of a historic resolution in 2012 that urged all countries to accelerate progress toward UHC as an essential priority for international development.
UHC means that all people have access to the health services they need, in good quality, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. UHC should be based on strong, people-centred primary health care (PHC) with health systems rooted in the communities they serve. Many countries are making progress towards UHC but achieving UHC requires strengthening health systems in all countries and investment in quality PHC will be the cornerstone for achieving this.
In line with the theme of this year’s Day “Build the World We Want: A Healthy Future for All”, the WHO Regional Office is organizing a regional meeting on “Primary health care for universal health coverage and health security in the Eastern Mediterranean Region” on 11–15 December at the Four Seasons hotel at the First Residence, Cairo, Egypt.
The meeting will be attended by more than 100 participants, bringing together a range of stakeholders from government, the private sector, donors, academia and the health sector to:
- renew commitment to achieving UHC and health security through PHC;
- share country experiences on the role of PHC in health emergencies;
- reach consensus on an implementation agenda for the 7 regional priorities;
- highlight ongoing work and progress on various health initiatives.
The meeting will also be attended by Regional Health Alliance partners, including WHO, United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations Population Fund, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, the World Organization of Family Doctors and the Arab Board of Health Specializations. The Regional Health Alliance aims to provide a platform for accessible, affordable, equitable, integrated, quality primary care and public health services for all.
Discussion will focus on establishing the link between PHC and the regional priorities outlined in the Sixty-ninth session of the Regional Committee (RC69) paper on ‘Building resilient health systems to advance UHC and ensure health security in the Eastern Mediterranean Region’ to inform the development of a regional road map to put into action the key strategic and operational levers outlined in the PHC Operational Framework. The meeting will also serve as an opportunity to prepare for the UN High-Level Meeting on UHC that is scheduled to take place in September 2023.
The expected outcomes of the meeting are:
- increased political commitment towards strengthening PHC to achieve UHC and health security;
- strengthened strategic approach for ‘making UHC happen’ in the Region;
- initiation of a regional UHC-Priority Benefit Package and adaptation process;
- development of a roadmap on enhanced engagement of the private sector towards PHC for UHC and health security;
- consensus on a strategic approach to promote national integration of the Regional Professional Diploma in Family Medicine;
- development of a “call for action” document to signal country level political commitment for the Regional Professional Diploma in Family Medicine;
- increased high-level commitment by national governments and Global Action Plan partners to implement effective development initiatives.