PAHO director urges support for universal health coverage

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

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GENEVA, Switzerland (CMC) — The director of the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), Dr Carissa Etienne has called delegates attending the World Health Assembly here to ensure that their interventions reflect the region's position on universal health, which includes universal health coverage and access.

The World Health Assembly will be discussing universal health coverage, not only at the plenary, but also in the different decisions that will be made on the subject.

“The difference with the other countries is that all our member states stressed that universal access to health is as important as universal health coverage. We call it universal health,” Dr Etienne said, adding that member countries of the Americas should put a strong emphasis on the need to address the social determinants of health and remove the barriers that hinder universal health coverage and access.

The meeting of the delegations of the Americas was headed by the Minister of Health and Social Development of the Bahamas, Duane Sands, who is also the President of PAHO's Directing Council.

Dr Etienne brought up the report with 10 recommendations on what the countries can do to ensure that all people have health access and coverage in the region, which was prepared by the High-level Commission and titled “Universal Health in the 21st Century: 40 Years of Alma-Ata”.

She also referred to PAHO's appeal to the countries to commit to reducing by at least 30 per cent the barriers that hinder access to health by 2030, and to allocate at least 30 per cent of the entire public health budget to primary health care by the same year.

Dr Etienne indicated that during the Assembly the delegates, including those from the various Caribbean countries, will be working on the high-level meeting on Universal Health Coverage that will be held at the United Nations in September this year.


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