By Sola Ogundipe

ON April 7, this year’s World Health Day, with the theme ‘Universal Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere’ forcus is on the right to good health.

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The right to good health is every Nigerian’ s fundamental right yet, millions don’t have access to even the most basic healthcare.

Nigeria’s health system is grossly underfunded and inadequate to meet the needs of the masses. As a result, Nigerians of little or moderate means are forced to choose between paying out of pocket to obtain healthcare or forsaking the health services altogether.

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Universal Health Coverage is one of WHO’s key goals. It is all about making quality health services (preventive, curative and palliative care) affordable to all.

It is ensuring everyone who needs healthcare service gets it, irrespective of their financial status.

The quality of healthcare services should be good enough to improve health.

Universal Health Coverage is based on the 1948 World Health Organisation WHO constitution, which declared health a fundamental human right, and the Health for All agenda of the 1978 Alma Ata declaration.

The purpose of Universal Health Coverage is to ensure that even the poorest of the poor don’t have to compromise on healthcare services.

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By ensuring broader health coverage, Universal Health Coverage can accrue tangible economic benefits for countries that have health coverage and can effect a marked reduction in out-of-pocket expenditure.

Nigerians seeking healthcare services should be protected from financial risk.

The argument is that good health shouldn’t come at the cost of financial harm. All Nigerians look forward to the day everyone can dream of a perfect future where choosing between health and subsistence would not be an option. Healthcare should be the primary goal of government to ensure no one is left behind.

In a stement to mark the day, the Director General, Dr Tedros observed that “Although we have made enormous progress in recent years against some of the world’s leading causes of death and disease, we still have a lot of work to do to realise that vision.

“Today, half the world’s population cannot access essential health services. Millions of women give birth without help from a skilled attendant; millions of children miss out on vaccinations against killer diseases, and millions suffer and die because they can’t get treatment for HIV, TB, and malaria. In 2019, this is simply unacceptable.

The good news is that there is a growing movement to address these inequalities,” According to Tedros,  Strong and sustainable primary health care is the bedrock of universal health coverage, and the best defence against outbreaks and other health emergencies.

“Although there will always be outbreaks and other disasters with health consequences, investing in stronger health systems can help to prevent or mitigate them.

“In the Sustainable Development Goals, all countries have committed to achieving universal health coverage (UHC) by 2030. To meet that target, we need to see 1 billion people benefitting from UHC in the next 5 years.

“This is not an unattainable dream, nor will it require billions of dollars to implement. UHC is achievable, right here, right now, for all of us.

“Health for all is possible even with health systems that are less than perfect – countries at many different income levels are making progress with the resources they have,” the DG noted.

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This shared commitment will be fundamental as we move forward to the next milestone in the global push towards universal health coverage – at the United Nations High-Level meeting on Universal Health Coverage in New York later this year.

At that meeting, world leaders will have the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to UHC to ensuring that every mother can give birth safely, that every child survives past its fifth birthday, and that no one dies simply because they are poor.


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