Ghana commemorates 2018 World Health Day; engages the media to raise awareness on the importance of Universal Heath Coverage
Health Minister, Dr. Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, has stated that, quality affordable health care is the foundation for individuals to lead productive and fulfilling lives, and for countries to also have strong economies.
According to him, Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is about ensuring that, people have access to the health care they need without suffering financial hardship, and also help drive better health and development outcomes.
The UHC, he said, is a strategy to ensure all essential health services such as HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, non-communicable diseases and mental health, sexual, reproductive, newborn and child health are available, accessible and affordable to all who require them.
The Minister was speaking at the press conference to commemorate the 2018 World Health Day in Accra on April 11, 2018 at the Ministry of Information conference room. The event was organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and supported by the Ministry of Health and other UN Agencies in the country.
Mr. Agyemang-Manu in his speech spelt out that, the Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG 3) is very essential element for the attainment of UHC, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health care services, and access to safe, effective, quality, and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
He added that, SDG 1, with goal to end poverty in all its forms everywhere, is also in danger without UHC, as hundreds of millions of people are left penniless by health care costs every year.
“Today, most low-and middle-income countries are designing and implementing strategies that are accelerating progress towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC).”
According to Mr. Agyemang-Manu, the UHC can also be determined by three critical dimensions; who is covered? What services are covered? and how much of the cost is covered?.
He reiterated that, one of the aims of UHC is to create a system of protection which provides equality of opportunity for people to enjoy attainable level of health.
Health care, he said, should be considered as basic human right, in which the nation ensures every person is covered by equal health care, regardless of age, gender, income, ethnicity, race, or political colour.
Mr. Agyemang-Manu also disclosed, “the NHIS is a pro-poor policy and offers a generous benefit package to its members. The scheme also has difficulties determining the socio-economic status of applicants; fixing flat-rate rather than income-related premiums.”
He therefore hinted that, for Ghana to achieve the Universal Health Coverage, the country needs to find more money to invest into the NHIS by increasing the fiscal space to fund it.
Meanwhile, he maintained that, “with support from the World Bank, we are ready to assist all the CHPS compound, for everyone everywhere to be able to access the facilities for basic health care free of charge.”
In his opening remarks, WHO Country Representative for Ghana, Dr. Owen Laws Kaluwa noted some countries have already made significant progress towards attaining the universal health coverage.
He said, “But half the world’s population is still unable to obtain the health services they need. If countries are to achieve the SDG target, one billion more people need to benefit from UHC by 2023.”
According to him, World Health Day 2018 is a unique opportunity for UHC2030 partners to engage in mobilizing high-level attention and amplify the movement to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage (UHC).
As WHO’s 70th anniversary year on World Health Day, “We will focus on “Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere”, ensuring that everyone, everywhere can access essential quality health services without facing financial hardship.
Dr. Owen said, making and sustaining progress towards UHC requires strong and sustained political commitment. “Throughout this 70th anniversary year, WHO is calling on world leaders to live up to the pledges they made when they agreed the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 and to commit to concrete actions to advance “Health For All.”