Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Must Be Affordably Priced For Everyone

The implementation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in India raises the question of whether we believe in health as a fundamental human right, which India’s Constitution guarantees under the right to life. The UHC should cover primary, secondary, and tertiary care for all who require it at a reasonable cost.

The Definition of Health

  • The World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of health, which includes mental and social well-being and happiness in addition to physical fitness and the absence of disease and disability.
  • We cannot achieve health in its broadest sense unless we address health determinants, which necessitates intersectoral collaboration beyond medical and health departments.

The distinction between primary health care (PHC) and universal health care (UHC)

  • The primary distinction between PHC and UHC is that PHC is a level of care within the health-care system, whereas UHC is a broader goal of ensuring equal access to health-care services for all individuals.
  • PHC is typically delivered at the primary care level, whereas UHC encompasses all levels of care, from primary to secondary and tertiary.
  • PHC focuses on basic health care services and health promotion, whereas UHC aims to provide all individuals with comprehensive health care services.

Health for All by the Year 2000

  • Halfdan Mahler proposed and the World Health Assembly endorsed the slogan “Health for All by 2000” in 1977. It contends that universal health care (UHC) was implicit as early as 1977.
  • Through its National Health Policy 1983, India committed to the ‘Health for All’ goal by the year 2000.

International Conference on PHC

  • The Alma Ata International Conference on Primary Health Care in 1978, which identified eight components of minimum care for all citizens.
  • The following components were included: It mandated that all health promotion and disease prevention activities, including vaccinations and treatment of minor illnesses and accidents, be provided free of charge to all citizens, with priority given to the poor.
  • Components not included: Chronic diseases, including mental illnesses, as well as their investigation and treatment, were almost entirely excluded from primary care. When it came to secondary and tertiary care, it was up to the individual to seek it from a small number of public hospitals or the private sector, which they had to pay for out of their own pockets.

The Astana Declaration’s Concerns

  • The 2018 Astana Declaration, which calls for collaboration with the private sector. However, the commercial private sector is well established and contributes to alcohol, tobacco, ultra-processed foods, industrial and automobile pollution.
  • The Astana Declaration never addressed poverty, unemployment, or poor living conditions, instead extolling quality PHC as the cornerstone of Universal Health Coverage while ignoring broader Universal Health Care.

@the end

Every person has the right to be healed without complications, disability, or death. Individualism in public health, the new global approach to UHC in which no one is left uncounted or uncared for, is the only way to guarantee that right. The Alma Ata Declaration on Primary Health Care should be remembered as a beautiful edifice of past concepts, and we should move forward with a newer concept of UHC.

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