30 January 2022

Growing awareness of and advocacy for UHC around the world

UHC Day 2021 - We must invest in health systems that leave no one behind

December 12th is the day we celebrate the importance of universal health coverage. Since 2014, UHC Day is the annual rallying point for the growing global movement for health for all. In 2021, this movement is more important than ever, and support for UHC is growing worldwide, as evidenced by the 100+ events, both in-person and virtual, that took place in more than 30 countries and the ever-expanding amount of social media attention.

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the health, social, economic and political risks and consequences of failing to invest adequately in health. The ongoing crisis has notably widened health inequities both within and between countries. At the end of the second year of the worst global health crisis in over a century – and in light of the inequities that underscore the global pandemic response and recovery –UHC Day 2021 was an opportunity to stress the importance of “investing in health systems for all, ensuring that no one’s health is left behind”.

The purpose of this year’s theme was to emphasize that health is an investment, not a cost and to hold governments accountable for honoring their commitments and rebuilding resilient, equitable health systems that prioritize the most vulnerable. There is now an urgent opportunity for more and better investments in the foundations of health systems — and an integrated approach grounded in primary health care — to ensure that no one is left behind, whether in crisis or calm. See UHC2030’s message from the Co-Chairs to political leaders here.

Despite ongoing COVID-19 pandemic-imposed limitations to UHC Day activities this year, many partners were still able to organize activities bringing people together where safe. Many more were able to engage in various other ways, be it through virtual webinars, report launches, or social media advocacy campaigns. The range and diversity of advocacy activities can be glimpsed on the UHC Day Global Heatmap.

Engagement around UHC Day culminated with the participation in Walk the Talk: Health for All at the Dubai Expo and the UHC Day 2021 Virtual Rally. The UHC Day 2021 Virtual Rally invited stakeholders to

  • Ask: Ask on social media your government, world leaders and those in power to act on their commitments to achieve universal health coverage
  • Amplify: Record a video or write a message answering the question “What does #HealthForAll mean to you?” Post your response on social media on 12.12 with the hashtag #UHCDay
  • Act: Take a short 5-10 second video or selfie of yourself outside moving in any way you can to raise awareness for UHC Day. Post your video or picture on social media on 12.12 with the hashtag #UHCDay

As in past years, governments timed major announcements around UHC Day that would improve access to quality health services. For examples, local governments in several countries launched schemes to extend national insurance coverage (Pakistan, Nigeria), committed to resubmit a national health insurance bill in the next Parliamentarian session (Uganda) or established health centers to deliver PHC closer to people (India). Senior officials from Canada, France, Japan and the UK convened to discuss the specific contributions of donor countries to resilient and equitable health systems that leave no one behind, focusing on key activities and levers to invest “more and better” in strengthening health systems. (add link to event report)

But the critical question remains: are countries living up to their commitments in terms of making progress towards achieving UHC by 2030?

According to the latest UHC global monitoring report of WHO and the World Bank released on UHC Day, progress made in service coverage over the past 20 years is likely to be offset by the COVID-19 pandemic, while financial protection is further deteriorating, bringing the world further away from the goal of one billion more people benefiting from UHC by 2023. While it is important to know what’s happening, we also need to understand why progress is happening or not. This is why UHC2030 undertakes the State of UHC Commitment review.

December 12 also saw the launch of UHC2030’s second State of Commitment report, which includes profiles of 45 countries. The report concludes with six key findings:

  • Most countries have agreed strong national commitments and targets for UHC, and an increasing number are reviewing their progress.
  • Country commitments and reporting on UHC are often not linked to a clear strategy to achieve UHC.
  • Government plans and reporting on UHC often focus on specific diseases or services in a fragmented manner.
  • Non-state actors lack opportunities to participate in government-led planning, progress reviews or implementation towards UHC.
  • The importance of equity is strongly acknowledged in governments’ UHC initiatives, but it needs to be operationalized comprehensively.
  • Governments have committed to multisectoral action to address factors outside the health sector but collaboration with non-health sectors could be significantly improved.

Overall, UHC Day 2021 saw increased mobilization in comparison with previous years. There was an increase in the overall number of contributors posting campaign content on social media, with an uptick on UHC Day itself and a notable increase during the virtual rally period. While slightly fewer people saw UHC Day messages in the weeks ahead of UHC Day, the increase in impressions from 2020 to 2021 demonstrates that people saw UHC Day messages more frequently, and the increase in contributors demonstrates that more people overall joined the conversation. Key campaign highlights include:

  • Over 1.7 billion potential Twitter impressions, 112 million accounts reached, and 46,000 total UHC Day mentions (tagging @UHC_Day and/or using #UHCDay or #HealthForAll) on social media, between 29 November and 17 December.
  • 19,500 visits to the @UHC_Day Twitter page between 12-17 December.
  • Almost 9,000 visitors from 170+ countries accessed the www.uhcday.org  site.
  • 150+ international articles and blogs focused on UHC, national policies and programs, COVID-19, Walk the Talk: Health for All Challenge, and the newly published global UHC monitoring reports.
  • 16 governments announced new policies and/or programs to promote health for all in their countries. Note: this number was captured by organic coverage on traditional and social media and may not capture the true extent of country engagement for UHC Day.
  • 75 UHC Day Champion videos and quote graphics shared on social media, including national and local government leaders from 24 countries.
  • 4 UHC-focused reports:
  • 1700+ participants in this year’s global Walk the Talk: Health for All Challenge.
  • 13.7 million: the number of total steps counted during the Walk the Talk: Health For All Challenge – far surpassing the goal of 5 million!

Read the full report on UHC Day 2021 here

More information on UHC Day and the Coordination Group of UHC Day (12.12 CG) —hosted by UHC2030 here: About - Universal Health Coverage Day

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