Graça Machel, Deputy Chair of The Elders, argues that delivering publicly financed healthcare is a political choice and challenges leaders to invest in their people’s futures and ensure an equitable route to universal health coverage across the Commonwealth.
“We may have reached a global consensus about the goal of achieving UHC, but there is no such agreement on how to get there.”
The Commonwealth embodies a huge range of experiences and lessons in moving towards universal health coverage (UHC). Some countries are nearer that goal than most, but at all income levels, there are some shining examples of Commonwealth countries outperforming their peers.
In South Asia, Sri Lanka has provided universal, free, publicly financed healthcare to its entire population since 1951 and, as a result, has achieved great success in improving health outcomes. Its maternal mortality rate is lower than in some states in the USA – which we all know, has yet to achieve UHC despite being 15 times richer than Sri Lanka.
In my own continent of Africa, the Commonwealth’s newest member, Rwanda, has given a very high priority to extending health coverage by allocating 20 per cent of its state budget to health, and has massively subsidised its national health insurance system. As a result, the child mortality rate here has reduced by 80 per cent since 2000…
Deputy Chair, The Elders and former Education Minister, Mozambique