31 January 2020
Universal health coverage provisions for women, children and adolescents
Published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization special issue on UHC
In an editorial in this month’s Bulletin of the World Health Organization, members of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Independent Accountability Panel for Every Woman, Every Child, Every Adolescent (IAP) lay out how working towards universal health coverage (UHC) presents a political, investment and implementation opportunity to advance the health of women, children and adolescents. IAP members Elizabeth Mason, Gita Sen and Alicia Ely Yamin, writing on behalf of the IAP, assert that sustainable development, equity and health goals can only be reached if we leave no one behind, warning UHC cannot be truly universal unless everyone is reached, “including those in fragile settings.”
In order to achieve this universality, IAP encourages a view of accountability that prioritizes human rights. Legal accountability based on respect for human rights will not only remedy health inequities and structural injustices, they will improve outcomes in child survival, adolescent development and women’s health.
As laid out in the editorial, these UHC efforts must be bolstered by multisectoral engagement, structured through legal and policy frameworks, and supported by strengthened country capacities that break down discrimination and marginalization within health systems, and collect and analyse data to uncover health inequalities. The IAP advocates for governments and other partners to commit publicly to these actions to and to being held accountable to deliver UHC and primary health care in a way to allows everyone to realize their rights to health and well-being.