21 January 2020

Events around the world marked UHC Day 2019.

UHC Day celebrations 2019: Keep the Promise

On 12.12.19 around the world, hundreds of civil society organisations raised their voices loud and clear to advocate UHC to national policy makers. Their aim is to make ‘health for all’ a reality for those millions of people still waiting.

This year’s UHC Day campaign theme said it loud and clear: Keep the Promise. Advocates took their turn to send a message to Heads of States who had demonstrated strong political vision and commitment for UHC at the High-Level Meeting on UHC at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 23 September 2019. In the resulting Political Declaration, UN Member States recognized the importance of primary health care as “the cornerstone of a sustainable health system for universal health coverage and health-related Sustainable Development Goals”.

The online global heat map for UHC Day 2019 saw over 230 organisations from 63 countries posting events, with probably many more other events also happening. This is a promising increase in mobilisation from 2018 with where 189 events were posted. During the campaign period, membership of the UHC2030 Civil Society Engagement Mechanism grew from 350 to 1,000 members.

While the number of global partner events grew substantially, so too did the amount of events and activities supported by the UHC Day Micro-Grant Programne. UHC2030 and WHO contributed a total of 141,900 USD to support 88 organizations from 58 countries (including multi-country events). The applications were stronger than ever this year, featuring activities as wide-ranging as political roundtables to brass band marches – and advocated for marginalized groups from people with albinism, to refugees, youth and women’s groups to the LGBTQ community.

Here are a few highlights from the Day

Events started with the international UHC Day 2019 Global Kick-Off Call on 11 December, with valuable remarks from high-level speakers including Her Excellency Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, and our UHC2030 Co-Chairs Ilona Kickbusch and Gitjinji Githari. We also heard from some civil society organistions who had received a micro-grants to support their UHC Day advocacy in countries. The full transcript and recording is available here.

High-level leaders made statements about UHC for publishing and promoting on social media. Here are some examples:

“It is only through brave, creative and inclusive partnerships that we can achieve the ambition of health for all. Now is the time to take bold action to leave no one behind.” Salome Zourabichvili, President, Georgia

“Community-based healthcare services can be an effective and inclusive way to achieve UHC. On this international day, let us promise to work for effective global partnership to leave no one behind.” Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister, Bangladesh

“To the Ghanaian, UHC should translate to timely access to high quality health services irrespective of ability to pay at the point of use.” Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, Minister of Health, The Republic of Ghana

“UHC Day is a crucially important annual reminder of the need to work together. We call on political leaders to legislate, invest and collaborate with all of society to make UHC a reality in every part of the world.” Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly

Many advocates made their own creative interpretations and variations of the UHC Day theme. For example:

The Blossom Trust in Tamil Nadu, India organized a street campaign to raise awareness of the importance of inclusive healthcare systems that include women and marginalized groups. EduClown performers distributed 5,000 flyers and collected 750 signatures on a petition that was presented to the Deputy Director of Health Services.

The UHC Youth Network in Tokyo, Japan shared video interviews of influential individuals discussing the history and challenges of UHC in Japan. Interviewees include university professors, President of the Japan Medical Association, a celebrity musician and Keizo Takemi, WHO Goodwill Ambassador for UHC and member of Japan’s House of Councillors.

Youth and Environment Vision in Mwanza city, Tanzania held a stakeholder forum resulting in agreement by regional health officials to produce research on how to establish a UHC system, by reviewing Kenya’s health insurance system and then will use the findings to develop universal health insurance in Tanzania.

Highlights from UHC Day

Dr. Tedros and Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe started the day strong with a joint op-ed in the Washington Post, arguing that all nations should have universal health coverage and Dr. Tedros followed with a WHO blog addressing gender inequities experienced by female health workers.

The Lancet published a new index that combines health service coverage with financial protection. Wagstaff, A. and S. Neelsen (2020). "A comprehensive assessment of universal health coverage in 111 countries: a retrospective observational study." The Lancet Global Health 8(1): e39-e49. This is work undertaken by the World Bank Group which also published a blog about it.

The Economist Intelligence Unit study analyzed how 10 countries meet the goals of UHC.

WHO launched the Global Spending on Health: A World in Transition report; and an interactive visualization report on how much development assistance for health flows directly to countries.

Her Excellency María Fernanda Espinosa tweeted an engaging #SaludParaTodos video.

South African Minister of Health Dr. Zweli Mkhize and WHO’s Dr. Owen Kalua were photographed after signing a pledge to #KeepThePromise.

Indian Union Minister for Health published a video address on UHC.

Bill Gates tweeted our campaign graphic on leaving no one behind (with 3.2 likes and counting!) and Melinda Gates highlighted that UHC is a cornerstone of a more equal world.

Women in Global Heath published a blog in Apolitical about the role of civil society to get women’s rights on the UHC agenda.

Education and Solidarity Network created videos in three languages to raise awareness of the education community’s support of UHC.

And the UHC Youth Network published 5 video lessons on the Japanese UHC experience.

We are sure that there are many other actions worthy of a mention, and encourage you all to keep on sharing your news and articles though social media or contact us directly info@UHC2030.org


Keep the Promise. If you’re looking for a summary of what was promised by leaders at the HLM, look no further than the Key Targets, Commitments & Actions document.

UHC Day Campaign toolkit

Global heat map

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