Universal Health Coverage Current Affairs

7 April: World Health Day

The World Health Day (WHD) is observed every year on 7 April to mark anniversary of founding of World Health Organization (WHO) on this day in 1948. Observance of the day focuses on disseminating knowledge and awareness about human health, increasing life expectancy by adding good health to lives of people and promoting healthier living habits across globe. The day also provides with unique opportunity to mobilize action around specific health topic of concern to people all over the world.

The theme for year 2018 is “Universal Health Coverage: Health For All’. It aims to ensure that everyone, everywhere should have access to essential quality of health services and should not experience any financial hardship while getting quality medical service. It seeks to provide an opportunity for UHC (Universal Health Care) 2030 partners to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage.

Background

The WHO annually marks World Health Day on 7 April to celebrate its founding in 1948. On this day in 1948, the first World Health Assembly was held Geneva, Switzerland. The World Health Assembly decided to celebrate 7 April of each year with effect from 1950 as the World Health Day. World Health Day is one of eight official global public health campaigns marked by WHO along with World Tuberculosis Day, World Immunization Week, World Malaria Day, World No Tobacco Day, World AIDS Day, World Blood Donor Day, and World Hepatitis Day.

World Health Organization (WHO)

WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that acts as a coordinating authority on international public health. It was established on 7 April 1948, it succeeded the Health Organization, which was an agency of the League of Nations. It is headquartered in                Geneva, Switzerland. It is member of United Nations Development Group (UNDG). WHO flag features the Rod of Asclepius as a symbol for healing.

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Government to launch Universal Health Assurance Mission

Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has announced that the government will introduce a universal health insurance programme under UHAM (Universal Health Assurance Mission). The programme will seek to provide all people access to tertiary medical services. In a country where only approximately 25% of the population is estimated to be covered by insurance, this step will go far in increasing insurance coverage and lowering premium rates.

Expert Group

An Expert Group headed by Dr.Ranjit Roy Chaudhary was formed to prepare a roadmap to UHAM. The group submitted its report in eight weeks and the report is now under consideration of the Health Ministry.

Projected Highlights of UHAM

  • Set to be the largest public health insurance programme in the world, with free insurance for persons in BPL category and low premium rates for rest of the population
  • 50 essential generic drugs, 30 AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy) drugs and a package of diagnostics to be provided free of cost to all citizens at government hospitals and health centres across the country
  • Package containing information regarding preventive and positive health information for all citizens
  • UHAM Agency, an autonomous oversight body will be formed to monitor the activities and ensure genuine protection of the beneficiaries

Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

WHO defines UHC as “ensuring that all people can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.” UHC can be broken down into three main components

  • Equity in access to healthcare – all persons, irrespective of their financial status, must be able to access healthcare
  • The medical care provided must be of good quality and standard and should result in improvement of health of patients
  • The cost of care must not be so expensive that it puts the seeker of medical help in financial hardship

Significantly, the Millennium Development Goals call for universal access to reproductive health and treatment for HIV/Aids. The WHO constitution of 1948 also declares health a fundamental human right.

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