Universal Health Coverage

SDG target: Achieve universal health coverage for all.

The UHC effective coverage index produced by IHME includes 23 indicators that, together, are a shortcut for thinking about whether people in a country have access to essential health services. This year, COVID is pushing these numbers down. Supply chains are cut off; PPE is scarce; and resources are being shifted to acute COVID care. Demand is down, too, as people avoid (or can’t get to) health facilities. Because the UHC index is a composite across different services provided through health systems, no single action can reverse this decline. Yet the ultimate pathway to UHC is primary health care (PHC). As Githinji Gitahi wrote in last year’s report, PHC is the backbone of a comprehensive health care system: It is accessible and affordable, and it can address more than 80 percent of a person’s health needs over the course of their lifetime. Steering more spending into PHC (and relatively less into secondary and tertiary care)—and spending that money more efficiently—will lead to better patient outcomes. Ultimately, it will also lead to the goal of UHC.

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