On December 12, 2023, as the world observes Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day under the theme “Health for All: Time for Action,” it is evident that the need for action has never been more pressing.
The recently published 2023 Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Global Monitoring Report paints a stark picture of global health service coverage and financial protection, with more than half of the world’s population—over 4.5 billion individuals— lacking full access to essential health services in 2021, while minimal improvements in NCD service coverage were made over the last few years.
It is clear that global and local leadership, coupled with meaningful change, is urgently needed.
UHC: A global priority
Universal Health Coverage is a central pillar of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, reflecting the world’s collective commitment to ensuring that everyone can access high-quality health services without enduring financial hardship. However, achieving UHC is intrinsically tied to confronting the challenge of NCDs, which pose a formidable threat due to their chronic nature.
The challenge of NCDs
The economic and individual toll of NCDs is staggering. If left unaddressed, NCDs are projected to cause cumulative losses of over USD 7 trillion in low- and middle-income Countries (LMICs) by 2025. On an individual level, the cost of NCD treatment plunges a staggering 100 million people worldwide into extreme poverty each year. Catastrophic health expenditures, often driven by NCDs, create a devastating cycle of poverty for individuals and their families.
Despite the pressing need for universal access to essential health services, numerous systems-level barriers, from inadequate health infrastructure, a lack of skilled healthcare professionals to limited dedicated financing, all hinder the establishment of UHC where it is most urgently needed.
A multisectoral effort in supporting UHC
We recognize that governments cannot achieve UHC alone; it requires innovation and collaboration among all relevant sectors, including academia, healthcare providers, those living with NCDs, NGOs, and the private sector.
Partnerships with the private sector have the potential to harness the resources, knowledge, and expertise required to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of health service delivery systems, which are essential for achieving sustainable and universal access to care. Additionally, these multisectoral collaborations can drive much-needed investments for NCD financing, further advancing our collective goal of UHC.
At Access Accelerated, we are committed to unlocking NCD financing for resilient health systems and individuals living with NCDs. Through our sustained efforts, we have supported 30 partner projects in LMICs that have contributed significantly to the advancement of UHC. Our catalytic efforts have resulted in a remarkable USD3.7 billion investment in NCDs.
We understand that a one-size-fits-all approach to UHC is inadequate. That’s why we support our partners and governments in developing evidence to inform UHC policy and advocate for targeted investments that align with the needs and context of each country.
As the burden of NCDs continues to mount, placing increasing pressure on local health systems to ensure equitable, high-quality, and affordable healthcare, Access Accelerated mobilizes the collective capacity of the biopharmaceutical industry and its partners to address this challenge through supporting initiatives that integrate NCD services at the primary care and ensure NCDs are part of UHC packages.
The way forward
This year, the second UN political declaration on UHC has led to broad acknowledgment of past inadequacies and challenges, while also offering renewed commitments to achieving health for all by 2030. To regain lost ground, we must seize this reinvigorated momentum and translate commitment into tangible actions.
As countries strive toward universal health coverage, there lies a strategic opportunity to work together to ensure accelerated action to ensure people living with NCDs have access to quality, affordable, equitable and timely care no matter who they are, where live or how much they earn.