Dr Githinji Gitahi is Co-Chair of UHC2030, the global movement for accelerating equitable and sustainable progress towards universal health coverage. He passionately supports the high level political commitment to UHC and sets out what Commonwealth leaders now need to do to translate their promises into urgent action.
Universal health coverage (UHC) is a political choice. From us in the global UHC movement to national leaders the world over, this message cannot be any clearer. All nations – including the 54 Commonwealth member states – have made the commitment to Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages. How then to translate this commitment into action at country level in meaningful and impactful ways is a political choice.
What does that mean? It means choosing to increase public financing for health and to remove retrogressive means of financing, like out-ofpocket payments. It means choosing to invest in primary health care and increasing that investment or reallocating existing resources by at least one per cent of GDP, as recommended by WHO. It means choosing to ensure equity so that everybody gets the health services they need and no one is left behind. It means choosing to create a strong regulatory and legal environment, with parliament ratifying UHC and approving a framework for allocating and tracking resources. It means choosing to strengthen transparency and accountability in health policy processes. It means choosing participatory governance mechanisms and ensuring social participation so that all voices, including those from the most vulnerable and marginalised groups, are heard. Finally, it means choosing to engage all stakeholders, including those beyond the health sector, to ‘move together’ to build a healthier society.
This might seem like a lot of choices to have to make, but they are all crucial for countries to achieve UHC…
Dr Githinji Gitahi
Co-Chair, UHC2030 and CEO, Amref Health Africa