7 April 2019 marks World Health Day. Set up in 1950 by the World Health Organisation (WHO), World Health Day’s aim is to shine a light on the work that needs to be done to provide access to quality healthcare to people across the globe.
The 1948 WHO Constitution declares that health is a fundamental human right and commits to ensuring the highest attainable level of health for all.
Each year, World Health Day focuses on a particular subject and, this year, the theme is universal health coverage (UHC).
What is UHC?
Currently, at least half of the world’s population still does not have full coverage for essential health services, and about 100 million people are still being pushed into extreme poverty because they have to pay for healthcare.
UHC means that all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering difficult financial consequences.
An unexpected illness can mean people have to use up their life savings, sell assets like their house or car, or borrow money, all of which can destroy their family’s future.
UHC enables everyone to access quality services that address the most significant causes of disease and death. It also includes population-based services, which help entire communities. These can include public health campaigns, adding fluoride to water, and controlling mosquito breeding grounds.
It is an ambitious project, so that’s why all United Nations (UN) Member States have agreed to try to achieve universal health coverage by 2030, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals, which are a collection of 17 global goals set by the UN General Assembly in 2015.
According to WHO, monitoring progress towards UHC should focus on 2 things:
- The proportion of a population that can access essential quality health services.
- The proportion of the population that spends a large amount of household income on healthcare.
However, UHC is made up of more elements than just health. It can also be measured in terms of equality, social inclusion and co-operation. Society as a whole can function better if universal health coverage is in place.
Who can help?
At a high level, ministers of health and other government decision-makers can commit to taking action and highlighting progress that has already been made.
Health workers also play a vital role through educating patients, co-ordinating care and campaigning for their patients’ needs to health facility managers and policy-makers.
Change the world — study a Health degree
If you are interested in studying a degree related to Health then there are many options available to you. You could study Health Policy and go on to have a powerful voice and influence 21st-century healthcare; or, you could study Health Science and prepare for a career in a health-related profession through science-based courses.
Health is a vast and fascinating area of study with many possible paths to choose from. You can explore the Health degrees available at our partner universities and choose your path by using the degree finder below.