The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.

On the occasion of International Universal Health Coverage Day

Time to build equitable health systems with primary healthcare

Investing more and better in Universal Health Coverage benefits all of society as the Universal Health Coverage reduces poverty and promotes equity and social cohesion. It’s time for local, national and global leaders to prioritize financing for health services and financial protection so that everyone can access quality health services without falling into poverty. This includes investing in all of the systems that address health and well-being as well as in a well-trained, well-paid health and care workforce. The need for more resilient health systems – especially in the face of climate change and increased risk of pandemics – has never been more urgent. It’s time to build equitable and resilient health systems with primary health care as a foundation and to connect universal health coverage with health security. This is the best way to protect communities, particularly vulnerable popula tions, to prepare for and respond effectively to health threats, and to ensure the continuity of essential health services – in crisis and calm. Primary health care is the foundation of Universal Health Coverage and people’s first line of defense against illness and disease. It is also the most inclusive, cost-effective approach to achieving health for all and protecting communities from health crises. It’s also time to expand primary healthcare interventions, including health promotion and disease prevention, that respond to people’s needs throughout their lives, address the determinants of health, and empower individuals, families and communities to take charge of their own health. To achieve health and wellbeing, governments must look beyond health services and address the environmental, social and behavioral factors that affect health. Governments should also listen to communities – including people of all ages and genders – and involve them in decision-making processes. This is the best way to ensure that health policies and programs meet people’s needs and leave no one behind. This comes at a time the International Universal Health Coverage Day is marked globally. The Universal Health Coverage Day 2023 theme is Health for All: Time for Action. Now that the global community has renewed its commitment to achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for all worldwide, it’s time for immediate and tangible steps that get progress back on track. Let’s urge our governments to enact policies that guarantee equitable access to essential health services without financial hardship and that ensure good health and well-being is not a privilege for a few but a right for all. This year’s theme also reminds us that, in a world that continues to experience a growing number of climate-related health threats, countries must invest in resilient and equitable health systems with primary health care as the foundation. By working across sectors – with governments, the private sector, NGOs and civil society – we can urge our government to make universal health coverage a reality by 2030. The United Nations High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage, held on 21 September 2023, reaffirmed that healthy people are the foundation of healthy societies and economies and that UHC is central to achieving all of the Sustainable Development Goals. It is worth mentioning that half of the world’s population does not have access to essential health services, and an estimated 2 billion people face financial hardships due to out-of-pocket health expenses, including 344 million people living in extreme poverty. Mashal Noori

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.