Global traction towards Universal Health Coverage has resonated since the release of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Health Report 2010, where the Director General of the WHO, Margaret Chan stated that “Universal Health Coverage is the single most powerful concept that public health has to offer.”
This year, the world’s premier health journal, the Lancet launched its special series on Universal Health Coverage which highlights the significance of UHC in the developing world, the political aspects surrounding the issue and its progress in making an impact on public health. The UHC-themed issue explores the social, political and economic impact of UHC.
Since then, various countries are progressing towards UHC. For instance, in Thailand, according to the World Bank, 99.5% of the population has health protection coverage under Thailand’s Health Scheme.In contrast, 60% of the Pakistani population is forced to pay for treatment out-of-pocket. The public sector Pakistan state social protection channel was initially started to alleviate poverty through a health financing fund, however there are many constraints and many people remain in a poverty trap.In a Comment in the Lancet, Judith Rodin and David de Ferranti conclude: “what will emerge in the decades ahead in each country undertaking reform is not entirely clear, but, as this Series and many country examples suggest, we are getting closer to a time when this [transition toward universal health coverage] will be achieved and families will no longer be at risk of having the cost of sickness ruin their lives.”Heartfile has started a healthcare financing channel that allows transparent help to the poorest of the poor to prevent against catastrophic spending on healthcare. This innovative health financing project by Heartfile has also been appreciated by the Pakistan Planning Commission. The use of a web-based system allows transparent dispersal of help to those in need through the novel phenomenon, mHealth.
Senior Research and Communications Associate