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WHO, UN & Member States Highlight Urgent Need to Achieve UHC

Written by : Nikita Saha

December 12, 2023

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Member countries of South-East Asia recognise the contemporary challenges and opportunities and have committed to accelerating progress towards UHC through strengthening the foundation of primary healthcare.

On the occasion of International Universal Health Coverage Day, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the United Nations (UN) and its member states in the South-East Asia region highlighted the urgent need to accelerate progress towards the achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Member countries of South-East Asia recognise the contemporary challenges and opportunities and have committed to accelerating progress towards UHC through strengthening the foundation of primary healthcare.

WHO regional director, South-East Asia, Poonam Khetrapal Singh, said "At the regional level, the South-East Asia Region has prioritised UHC as a flagship priority since 2014. Over the last decade, very significant UHC-related reforms have been and are currently in the process of implementation across the region."

Reports show that between 2015 and 2021, the South-East Asia region increased its UHC service coverage index from 54 to 62. Currently, 4.5 billion people still need to be fully covered by essential health services. Trends in financial protection are also worsening, with an estimated 2 billion people suffering financial hardship due to out-of-pocket expenditure.

Moreover, regional director Khetrapal affirmed that the WHO is committed to providing its ongoing and unmitigated support for a South-East Asia Region in which all people can access quality health services, when and where they need them, without financial hardship.

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) ensures everyone has access to quality health services without financial strain. It encompasses the complete range of essential health services, promoting health through prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care throughout life. Celebrated on December 12th, Universal Health Coverage Day commemorates the UN's unanimous 2012 endorsement, raising awareness for robust health systems and comprehensive coverage with diverse partners.

WHO has recently launched various initiatives, including today's UHC initiative. On World Sight Day, another notable effort called ‘WHOeyes’ was introduced. This application is accessible to the general public free of cost, offering the opportunity to access near and distant vision and gain insights into preserving eye health.

Further, the app checks visual acuity, a measure of how well the eye can distinguish shapes and details at a specific distance, representing a common evaluation of visual function.


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