Universal Health Coverage Day

The Universal Health Coverage Day is observed annually on 12 December to advocate for equitable, accessible healthcare for everyone, regardless of their financial, geographical or social standing. On the same date in 2012, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution urging countries to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage. The essence of universal health coverage (UHC) is that affordability has to be an essential priority for international development. Through the resolution 72/138 in 2017, the United Nations declared 12 December as the International Universal Health Coverage Day (UHC Day).

The primary aim of the UHC Day is to raise and spread awareness about the importance of building resilient healthcare systems with multi-stakeholder partners. Advocates of UHC take this day to share the stories of the millions of people still waiting for health, reflect on previous achievements, and petition world leaders to make greater and wiser health investments. The message to drive home is to adopt policies and make commitments to help move the world closer to UHC by 2030.

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has really shaken the world’s healthcare systems to their cores. This period of crisis has renewed the urgency of having a working universal health coverage system for all individuals. People around the world are rising up and demanding change, and world leaders everywhere are paying more attention to these demands than ever before. “In responding to the pandemic, we have seen rapid innovative approaches to health service delivery and models of care, and advances in preparedness. We must learn from this experience. For Universal Health Coverage Day, let us commit to end this crisis and build a safer and healthier future by investing in health systems that protect us all — now." Said António Guterres, Secretary-General, World Health Organization.

The universal health coverage day theme 2020 is “Health for All: Protect Everyone — To end this crisis and build a safer and healthier future, we must invest in health systems that protect us all — now.” The theme is aligned to the UN High-Level Meeting on UHC that took place earlier this year and had various heads of state, health ministers, policymakers, and healthcare leaders pledging UHC in their respective countries by 2030. With the target of benefiting more than one billion people by 2023, the World Health Organisation recognizes the achievement of universal coverage as a strategic priority. WHO recommends that countries with weak health systems should rely on technical support for the building of national structures and the procurement of resources to address vital emergency gaps. In more robust health sector contexts, through policy discussion for future systems and structural funding to increase results, public health effects can be pushed towards health care for everyone.

The contribution to achieving UHC in India is expressed in policies and structural frameworks aimed at rising coverage and access to health services in India. Ayushman Bharat - one of the most ambitious health missions ever to accomplish UHC - was initiated by India. Nevertheless, the idea of achieving UHC has always been a long-standing dream of India.