Investing in Health Systems Strengthening for Universal Health...
As the world’s major providers of official development assistance (ODA) gather this week in Berlin in the context of meetings of the G7 Ministers of Health, Development and Finance, we have a simple and urgent message for them: Help countries to build health systems that protect everyone.
To respond to the COVID-19 crisis and build a safer and healthier future, leaders must urgently invest in health systems that protect everyone, based on primary health care. So doing, with an inherent focus on equity and resilience, is crucial to make universal health coverage (UHC), health security, and health and well-being for all a reality and accelerate progress on the road to 2030.
Today we call on G7 Ministers of Health, Development and Finance to take collective action to prioritize support for health systems, especially the core health systems foundations, known as “common goods for health”, that are essential to protect everyone and promote health and wellbeing and include core capacities to detect, assess and report public health events in line with the International Health Regulations.
Specifically, we call on them to remember their UHC Political Declaration commitment and provide adequate, predictable, evidence-based and sustainable finances, while improving their effectiveness, to support national efforts and priorities in moving towards UHC. We ask that they:
➢ Invest more. COVID-19 highlights pre-existing needs to increase investment in health, especially domestic public financing, and reduce reliance on impoverishing out-of-pocket payments. For many low-income countries, which are facing a double health and economic shock and are unlikely to be able to increase or maintain per capita government spending on health, ODA still has a critical role in supporting national efforts to achieve UHC.
➢ Invest better. Only 10 percent of aid for health is used to strengthen health systems, and it is often provided to countries in fragmented ways. Furthermore, less than 10 percent of aid for health targets health security, and the aid is mostly for crisis response rather than preparedness investments. There is an urgent need for collective action and more coherent support for health systems strengthening aligned with countries’ priorities and needs, with special emphasis on primary health care, gender equality and social participation and accountability. Collective action must address the global shortfall of 18 million health workers and ensure decent working conditions through allocation of ODA for training of frontline health workers in low and lower middle-income countries. G7 members should promote this in their bilateral support and through global health funds.
➢ Improve tracking and reporting. Current global ODA reporting processes make it difficult to track how much support goes to health systems strengthening and emergency preparedness. Better understanding of these allocations and flows will help to improve planning and predictability of funding and support national and international accountability for impact.
COVID-19 reinforces that health is everyone’s business. Countries must come together, with the international community, to ensure coherent action, especially to meet the needs of women and girls and vulnerable and marginalized people, whose communities have been hit hardest by the pandemic and disrupted health.
As co-chairs of the diverse and lively multi-stakeholder movement for UHC (including all spheres of governments, parliamentarians, civil society, private sector, international agencies, global health networks and academia), we welcome the leadership of the G7 Ministers in accelerating progress towards a safer, healthier and greener world, and demonstrating continued solidarity, including through the commitment to achieve the target of 0.7 per cent of ODA/GNI.
Co-Chairs of Steering Committee, UHC2030
- Ms. Gabriela Cuevas Barron
- Dr. Justin Koonin
UHC2030’s paper Action for health systems, for UHC and health security
Think7 Task Force on Global Health’ policy brief Human Resources for Health in a Globalized world
World Bank’s at a glance From double shock to double recovery: Health financing in the time of COVID-19