Each year on December 12th – Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day – advocates of UHC gather and raise their voices to call for more action to realize health for all without causing financial hardship. Wemos has joined this call with an interactive webinar and a new factsheet about public finance targets for UHC.
Many low- and middle-income countries are challenged to raise more public revenue to invest in their health systems, especially for primary level health services, to make progress towards UHC. As part of our work in the Health Systems Advocacy Partnership, we produced a fact sheet on the relative and absolute targets for health expenditure. By linking public expenditure for health to a country’s wealth, governments are motivated to enlarge fiscal space for health.
‘It really is about political commitment’
In our recent UHC webinar, emeritus professor Diane McIntyre (Health Economics Unit of Cape Town University) emphasized that although the target of ‘at least 5% of GDP’ for health is very ambitious for countries that raise only a small proportion of GDP for government revenue, ‘it really is about political commitment and constant moving towards larger fiscal space for health’. Professor Francis Omaswa (ACHEST) stressed the importance of having an absolute target for public expenditure on primary healthcare – ‘good health at low cost’ – because a relative target can be very volatile and, after all, ‘a percentage of very little, is very little’. He added that ‘strong governance and leadership by all are crucial’. The participants in the discussion made suggestions for civil society advocacy, warned to not solely emphasize the relative target in domestic resource mobilization, and flagged the need for aligned support from donors, the quality of public expenditure for health, and the joint challenge to counter tax avoidance by multinational corporations in their country.
The time for collective action is now
The theme of this year’s UHC Day is ‘Unite for UHC: Now is the time for collective action’. Today, health is still not accessible for many people, in particularly the poorest and most marginalized. Wemos believes that access to health services should not depend on the content of a person’s wallet, geographic location, or societal status.
Visit our knowledge platform for more on UHC, health financing and HRH
Have a look at our fact sheet ‘Public finance targets for Universal Health Coverage’