World Health Day 2019: Universal health coverage

3 April, 2019

Dear HIFA colleagues,

(with thanks to Alberto Fernandez, lead moderator, HIFA-Spanish)

7 April is World Health Day and the theme this year is Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

'Universal health coverage is defined as ensuring that all people have access to needed health services (including prevention, promotion, treatment, rehabilitation and palliation) of sufficient quality to be effective while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user the financial hardship. Universal health coverage has therefore become a major goal for health reform in many countries and a priority objective of WHO.'

During April the HIFA Forums (HIFA, CHIFA, HIFA-French, HIFA-Spanish, HIFA-Portuguese, HIFA-Zambia) invite all HIFA members to contribute their thoughts and perspectives around UHC. To start discussion we invite you to review the World Health Day 2019 page of the PAHO (Pan-American Health Organization) website:


Everyone has a part to play, sparking conversations and contributing to dialogue on policies that can help your country achieve and maintain universal health.

Decision-makers can:

- Engage in structured conversations with various community stakeholders who are both affected by and essential to ensuring universal health.

- Listen to the population’s demands, opinions, and expectations regarding universal health in order to improve policy responses.

- The population can be consulted through face-to-face dialogue, surveys, or a referendum, among other methods.

- Collaborate with grassroots organizations and advocates for universal health to explore feasible solutions.

Health professionals can:

- Discuss intersectoral policies to ensure the availability, accessibility, relevance, and competence of human resources for universal health.

- Discuss the needs of qualified, motivated inter-professional teams, which are essential to serve the health needs of the people wherever they may live.

- Raise their voices so that health workers can enjoy stable and decent employment, as this strengthens both the health system and the social and economic development of the country.

- Create movements that foster high-level agreements between the educational and health sectors, in order to achieve quality standards in the training of health workers, based on specific community needs.

- Advocate for the gender perspective to be incorporated into new organizational models and when hiring in the health services.

People and communities can:

- Raise their voices in order to exercise their right to health and organize national movements toward universal health.

- Communicate their needs, opinions, and expectations to local policy-maker, politicians, ministers, and other public representatives.

- Make themselves heard through social media in order to ensure that community health needs—and other needs—are taken into account and prioritized at the local level.

- Invite civil society organizations to help raise their community needs with policy-makers.

- Share their stories, as affected communities and people, with the media.

- Organize activities such as discussion forums, policy debates, concerts, marches, and interviews to provide people with an opportunity to interact with their representatives on the topic of universal health via the mass media and social media.

- Advocate for governments to implement strategies to motivate health teams, using economic incentives, professional development, and quality of life measures to encourage them to stay in remote and neglected areas.

The media can:

- Highlight initiatives and interventions that help improve access to quality services and financial protection for people and communities.

- Show what happens when people cannot obtain the services they need.

- Hold policy-makers and politicians accountable, e.g. through documentaries on the commitments they have made to universal health, focusing on strengths, weaknesses, and new challenges to be addressed (e.g. increase in noncommunicable diseases or population ageing).

- Create platforms for dialogue between beneficiaries, communities, their political representatives, and policy-makers, e.g. through debates, interviews, and talk radio.


Best wishes, Neil

Let's build a future where people are no longer dying for lack of healthcare information - Join HIFA:

HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: