Capitalizing on Our Gains
Michael Myers

Michael Myers Managing Director, The Rockefeller Foundation

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January 26, 2015

Capitalizing on Our Gains

Michael Myers

Michael Myers Managing Director, The Rockefeller Foundation

Tags for this post
January 26, 2015

2015 promises to be a banner year of landmark progress for the universal health coverage (UHC) movement to provide health care to everyone on the planet. It’s an ambitious goal, but as we enter the New Year, momentum has never been stronger.

Just last month, on December 12, 2014, more than 500 organizations from more than 100 countries came together to celebrate the first-ever Universal Health Coverage Day. The date marked the two-year anniversary of the unanimous United Nations resolution that urged leaders around the world to ensure access to quality health care without financial hardship.

UHC Day Infographic (2014)

This unprecedented day of action for health for all speaks to a consensus that universal access to quality, affordable health services must be at the cornerstone of sustainable development. The historic coalition organized 48 events in 32 countries, generated 177 media stories in 36 countries and reached over 14.2 million individuals with 67.3 million #HealthForAll impressions on Twitter. Perhaps most importantly, this call to action transcended borders, issue areas, and sectors. Partners worked on causes across the health and development spectrum, from HIV and child health to non-communicable diseases and women’s rights. Five national development agencies and more than 30 academic institutions joined the chorus for health for all.

And this show of support was just the tip of the iceberg.

The last standing arguments against UHC – related to feasibility – are breaking down in the face of growing evidence that UHC is achievable and affordable for countries across the income spectrum. Prominent economists like Larry Summers and Amartya Sen have endorsed UHC as a smart investment for countries and a catalyst for inclusive economic growth. A wealth of knowledge and experience from pioneering countries is becoming more widely available, providing case studies and lessons learned for policy makers and health practitioners on the ground.

Finally, there is growing recognition that UHC is central to building resilient communities. In 2014, we watched as weak health systems were quickly overwhelmed by what has now become the largest and most devastating Ebola outbreak in history. The disease continues to ravage parts of West Africa more than a year after the outbreak began, reversing years of development progress, and tearing at the social and economic fabric of already vulnerable nations. UHC ensures that, in times of calm, strong health systems reach everyone to strengthen communities and – in times of crisis – the same communities can respond and rebound more quickly.

This unprecedented day of action for health for all speaks to a consensus that universal access to quality, affordable health services must be at the cornerstone of sustainable development. The historic coalition organized 48 events in 32 countries, generated 177 media stories in 36 countries and reached over 14.2 million individuals with 67.3 million #HealthForAll impressions on Twitter. Perhaps most importantly, this call to action transcended borders, issue areas, and sectors. Partners worked on causes across the health and development spectrum, from HIV and child health to non-communicable diseases and women’s rights. Five national development agencies and more than 30 academic institutions joined the chorus for health for all.

And this show of support was just the tip of the iceberg.

The last standing arguments against UHC – related to feasibility – are breaking down in the face of growing evidence that UHC is achievable and affordable for countries across the income spectrum. Prominent economists like Larry Summers and Amartya Sen have endorsed UHC as a smart investment for countries and a catalyst for inclusive economic growth. A wealth of knowledge and experience from pioneering countries is becoming more widely available, providing case studies and lessons learned for policy makers and health practitioners on the ground.

Finally, there is growing recognition that UHC is central to building resilient communities. In 2014, we watched as weak health systems were quickly overwhelmed by what has now become the largest and most devastating Ebola outbreak in history. The disease continues to ravage parts of West Africa more than a year after the outbreak began, reversing years of development progress, and tearing at the social and economic fabric of already vulnerable nations. UHC ensures that, in times of calm, strong health systems reach everyone to strengthen communities and – in times of crisis – the same communities can respond and rebound more quickly.

In 2015, 100 million people will fall into poverty trying to access needed health services. As the global community embarks on a new era of development, this fact must inspire us to redouble our efforts. By working together with policy makers, civil society, advocates and the private sector, we have an opportunity to ensure that no one will be forced to choose between their livelihood and their health.

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