New report launched at WISH calls for Universal Health Coverage to be implemented worldwide
Doha, Qatar (17 February 2015): Health professionals and policymakers came together today to debate the human right to health as a new report calls on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to be implemented across the globe. Delegates at the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH), a global initiative of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), heard from the report’s lead author, Sir David Nicholson (former chief executive of the National Health Service in England) as he launched The Next Billion: How to Deliver Universal Health Coverage.
UHC is the basic concept that every person, everywhere, should have access to healthcare without suffering financial hardship. This essential human right is a cornerstone of sustainable development and global security. But today, a billion people worldwide live without access to basic healthcare services and every year millions are forced into poverty after having to pay for healthcare out of their own pocket.
Today’s policy report, which is based on a review of all available evidence, highlights the substantial benefits UHC can deliver – for individuals, for countries and for politicians – and provides a solid framework to support policymakers in transitioning their nations’ health services to UHC.
The report recognises that designing and implementing a UHC strategy cannot be seen as a one-size-fits-all process. But a consensus is emerging on effective approaches to UHC that can be applied universally and it’s these evidence-based recommendations that will see the global movement towards UHC continue to gather momentum.
Launching the report at WISH, lead author and Forum Chair Sir David Nicholson said: “Evidence shows that in any country it’s important that the whole population is covered with a priority health package providing good quality primary, community and some general hospital services. When it comes to financing, our research suggests that the most effective mechanism is a publicly governed compulsory financing system. Above all, strong political leadership, careful monitoring and strong institutions are needed to see successful implementation of health reforms.
“No one is pretending that improving health systems is easy – but case studies from around the world show it is possible. Complex issues need to be discussed and difficult decisions made at the highest level. My message to policymakers is to be brave and bold.”
Professor The Lord Darzi of Denham, Executive Chair of WISH and Director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College of London, said: “The report we have published today provides clear recommendations for policymakers to help them implement much needed change in how healthcare is financed and delivered. The discussion was lively and positive and we now look forward to working with health leaders as they take crucial steps in their home countries towards ensuring that every citizen – regardless of income – has equal access to high quality healthcare.”
The report’s recommendations have been endorsed by a wide range of organisations – including the World Bank and the Lancet Commission. This WISH report aims to keep UHC at the top of the global health agenda and stimulate further informed debate and action across the globe.
In December 2012 the United Nations passed a resolution calling on all countries to plan or pursue the transition of their health services towards universal coverage. According to the World Health Organization, universal health coverage (UHC) is the single most powerful concept that public health can offer.
Recent research looking into the health of 2035 showed that for every USD1 invested in health today, we could reap USD20 increase in income over the next 20 years. Recognised as a subject of such importance, the World Bank Group has identified UHC as a top priority for sustainable development. To date more than 80 countries have asked the World Health Organization (WHO) for help in moving toward UHC, including the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
UHC is one of eight reports being presented at the 2015 WISH Summit taking place in Qatar, where leading international health experts are joining an influential community of heads of state, government ministers, academics, clinicians, policy makers and business leaders to discuss innovative solutions to some of the most pressing global health challenges.
As well as UHC, WISH will publish reports on Communicating Complex Health Messages, Diabetes, Delivering Affordable Cancer Care, Dementia, Patient Safety, Mental Health and Wellbeing in Children, and Maternal and Newborn Health.
WISH is spearheaded by Qatar Foundation to inspire and diffuse healthcare innovation and best practice. It remains closely aligned to the vision and mission of QF to unlock human potential and reinforces Qatar’s pioneering role as an emerging center for healthcare innovation.
To download the reports and watch the research discussions that taking place at WISH, please visit wish.org.qa.
Notes to Editors:
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Delivering universal health coverage: a guide for policymakers
THE REPORT’S FOCUS
Ensuring access to effective, quality health services, without the fear of financial hardship, is a basic human right. Through the leadership of several key international organizations, including the World Health Organization, there is now a growing global movement towards UHC.
There is a mounting body of evidence that shows that UHC can deliver substantial benefits – for individuals, for countries and for politicians. However, designing and implementing an approach to achieving UHC is no simple task – there are complex trade-offs and practical challenges, as well as the need for political commitment. The report looks at the available evidence on these topics, in particular:
- What population groups and services to cover
- How to pay for UHC
- How to implement UHC.
The concluding case study shows how reforms relating to maternity and children’s health services have impacted on one of the poorest countries in the world, leading to dramatic drops in infant and child mortality.
Designing and implementing a UHC strategy cannot be seen as a one-size-fits-all process – each country will need to consider its population’s individual health needs, as well as the level of economic development and the political environment. However, the review of available research evidence has identified some key strategic issues where a consensus is emerging on approaches to UHC that are more likely to be effective than others:
- Countries should focus first on achieving full population coverage of an affordable package of services
- Publicly governed, mandatory financing mechanisms (general taxation and social health insurance contributions) are the best way to pay for UHC
- Sustained political commitment from the highest level of government, including the head of state, is essential in implementing successful UHC reforms.
These recommendations have been endorsed by a wide range of organizations – including the World Bank and the Lancet Commission. This WISH report aims to keep UHC at the top of the global health agenda and stimulate further informed debate and action across the globe.
THE FORUM CHAIR
Sir David Nicholson
Former Chief Executive of the National Health Service (NHS) in England
Sir David Nicholson was Chief Executive of the National Health Service (NHS) in England from September 2006 to March 2013. From October 2011 to March 2014 he was the first Chief Executive of NHS England, the body responsible for overseeing over £100 billion NHS funding per annum to improve quality and secure the best possible outcomes for people.
Sir David retired from the NHS in March 2014 following a career spanning over 35 years. He held senior leadership positions in acute and mental health services, and at four regional health authorities, including London. He was awarded the CBE in 2004 and was knighted in 2010, both for his services to the NHS. In 2014 he was appointed as an Adjunct Professor of the Institute of Global Health Innovation at Imperial College London and also Chair of the Universal Health Coverage Forum at WISH.
About the World Innovation Summit for Health:
The World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH) is a global healthcare community dedicated to capturing and disseminating the best evidence-based ideas and practices. WISH is an initiative of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) and is under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, its Chairperson.
The inaugural WISH Summit took place in Doha in 2013 and convened more than 1,000 global healthcare leaders. Through international summits and a range of ongoing initiatives, WISH is creating a global community of leading innovators in healthcare policy, research and industry.
Together, they are harnessing the power of innovation to overcome the world’s most urgent healthcare challenges and inspire other stakeholders to action.
Qatar Foundation – Unlocking Human Potential
Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development is a private, non-profit organisation that is supporting Qatar on its journey from a carbon economy to knowledge economy by unlocking human potential for the benefit of not only Qatar, but the world. Founded in 1995 by His Highness Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, The Father Emir, QF is chaired by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser.
QF carries out its mission through three strategic pillars: education, science and research, and community development. QF’s education pillar brings world-class universities to Qatar to help create an education sector in which young people can develop the attitudes and skills required for a knowledge economy. Meanwhile, its science and research pillar builds Qatar’s innovation and technology capacity by developing and commercialising solutions through key sciences. Finally, its community development pillar helps foster a progressive society while also enhancing cultural life, protecting Qatar’s heritage and addressing immediate social needs in the community.
For a complete list of QF’s initiatives and projects, visit http://www.qf.org.qa
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