Universal health coverage: a call to action

Ahead of the 2019 UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage, we set out eight actions to support progress towards achieving health for all. 

1. Use evidence to improve health systems




We must strengthen and expand the synthesis and use of research knowledge and evidence, prioritising implementation studies, health policy and systems research, and knowledge translation linked to Universal Health Coverage reform.

2. Prioritise primary health care and a life-course approach


Primary health care and health services can play an essential role in promoting low-cost and accessible prevention and treatment.

The delivery of such care must be informed by a life-course approach, with a focus not on single diseases but on broader aspects of health and well-being, with strong integration of services between primary and other levels of care.


3. Integrate services, including digital health solutions



We urgently need to break down traditional silos and integrate the prevention, screening, and treatment of chronic diseases into existing programmes.

Technology has a key role to play here, but digital solutions must be developed and evaluated in a real-world context, and integrated within existing and emerging health systems.

4. Take a gender lens to health conditions and services


We must work with women to develop targeted strategies to address unacceptable gender inequities.

Gender-sensitive analyses are essential to understand the determinants of health conditions and risk factors; barriers to accessing services; and pathways leading to quality care.


5. Ensure equitable and sustainable financing




We call on governments to raise domestic finance through taxation to achieve Universal Health Coverage, in order to ensure financing is equitable and sustainable.

6. Use strategic purchasing and health technology assessments



Strategic purchasing and conducting health technology assessments with the involvement of communities are key to ensuring that benefit packages maximise health benefits for target populations, particularly in highly resource-constrained settings.


7. Support frontline health workers and carers



We must support frontline health workers to advance the Universal Health Coverage agenda through embedded research, training, supervision, and appropriate career paths.

We need to be mindful of the role of women as carers and community health workers, and must end the practice of engaging women as unpaid and underpaid health and social care workers.

8. Focus on prevention and community engagement


We must include services for preventing chronic diseases and promoting good mental health in Universal Health Coverage packages; services that can be delivered at low cost through community-based programmes.

We must ensure that communities are involved in the design and delivery of Universal Health Coverage, and in holding governments to account.


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