WGH Joins the Universal Health Coverage 2030 (UHC2030) Global Compact and Movement

It was my privilege on May 23rd at the 71st World Health Assembly (WHA71) to sign the UHC2030 Global Compact on behalf of Women in Global Health (WGH). The side event “Member States Commitment to the Global Movement towards Universal Health Coverage: Focused Actions on Primary Health Care and Financing for Effective Delivery & UHC2030 Global Compact Signing Ceremony” was organized by the Government of Indonesia and co-sponsored by Mexico, the Republic of Korea, Turkey, Australia (MIKTA), Ghana and the Maldives and illustrated once again the commitment to realise UHC everywhere and for everyone, leaving no-one behind.

WGH became a signatory to the Global Compact at the event along with the governments of Ghana and Iran and five other civil society organisations (CSOs), joining over 65 existing UHC 2030 partners from governments, multilateral organisations, UN agencies, global health initiatives, philanthropic organisations, CSOs and the private sector. UHC2030's mission is to create a broad movement for accelerating equitable and sustainable progress towards universal health coverage (UHC) and WGH intends to play a catalytic role in that process.

UHC was, without doubt, the biggest game in town at WHA71 in Geneva and has been for a year since Dr. Tedros took up the post of Director General of the WHO and set UHC as the key goal of his tenure. In 2015 all UN member states committed under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2016- 2030 to: “Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.” SDG Goal 3, Target 3.8, UHC will be the global health game changer for the billions of people who currently lack access to quality, affordable health coverage but the timetable of delivery by 2030 is ambitious. Achieving UHC is as much a political issue as it is technical.

As momentum for UHC grows, WGH is bringing to this broad partnership the message that addressing gender equality will make or break achievement of UHC. We have two big major points to bring to the table:

  • The first is that the Universal in UHC means reaching everyone and in many societies, women and girls in particular social classes, regions etc will be the hardest to reach. Extending health coverage to all women and girls everywhere will determine achievement of UHC.

  • The second is that women are the majority of the global health and social care workforce but men hold the majority of senior roles: Globally, women in the health and social care workforce deliver care to over 5 billion people. To achieve UHC and SDGs projections estimate that around 40 million new health and social care jobs globally will be needed by 2030, and an additional 18 million health workers will be needed, primarily in low income countries. An investment in UHC means an investment in women in the health and social care workforce. Achieving the UHC game changer means changing the game. Governments need to ensure decent working conditions, particularly for frontline women health workers at community level, who are the backbone of the health system but often underpaid and marginalized within it. Effective health systems will ensure gender parity at all levels of decision making to harness women’s perspectives and talent. We need to change the narrative and recognize that women are drivers of change within global health and if enabled, will deliver UHC.

Women in Global Health looks forward to working with the partners in the UHC2030 multi-stakeholder platform and collaborating at global and country levels to deliver UHC.

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