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UHC day 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic is a sentinel event, like the death of a canary in a coal mine. It requires immediate action. But addressing the weaknesses and inequities of health systems that the pandemic has unveiled requires more than a vaccine and an immunisation strategy. Right now at least half the world’s population lacks access to essential health services. Only functioning, accessible and affordable health systems for everyone will assure adequate responses to this and to any other current or future threat to health.

For over thirty years now, access to health and health care as a human right has been a core value of the work we do at hera. We have called on and continue to call on government, civil society and individual duty bearers to respect their obligation to provide timely and equitable access to appropriate health care and health-promoting services. We are proud of our work for instance with IHP+, which became UHC2030, in promoting partnerships and global commitments for health. Yet we know that in the current climate of siloed investments in health, vaccine nationalism and dwindling donor funds for development it will be very hard to truly move the needle towards equitable access for all. Yet it is crucial we do so. So once again on this UHC day we join the call for immediate and prioritized investment in health systems to protect everyone and leave no-one behind.

When we asked our partners and colleagues at hera what they thought was most important about marking UHC day many raised concerns that big global campaigns often amounted to lip service. They wanted to see the actual realities of the work and examples of successful initiatives that would inspire others to continue the struggle. Global awareness they felt was important but more so they wanted to see UHC commitments adopted and implemented at country levels.

Further to that many pointed out that any real action and impact would only come with a major paradigm shift. A repoliticisation of global health, "grounded in a health justice framework that acknowledges how colonialism, racism, sexism, capitalism and other harmful ‘-isms’ pose the largest threat to health equity."

On UHC Day 2020, as the world continues to reel from the impact of the pandemic, we see a small and rare opportunity to challenges unequal power dynamics and to help decolonize global health and with that help reset the system. It is time for health systems that #ProtectEveryone.

Please visit the UHC Day campaign website to learn more about UHC day and all the associated activities.

Also check out the new WHO report, Global Spending on Health: Weathering the storm outlining the current state of global health spending and providing six recommendations for a new global health financing compact.