On December 12, 2012, the United Nations unanimously endorsed universal health coverage. That commitment to access to quality health care for every person in every nation on earth reminds us that health is both a human right and a cornerstone of sustainable development and global security.
The Mailman School Joins a Coalition
Two years later, the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health is joining a coalition of more than 350 philanthropic, health, educational, and human rights organizations around the world to celebrate progress toward health for all and to continue holding leaders accountable. December 12, 2014 marks the first Universal Health Coverage Day, an annual call-to-action to recognize the unconditional importance of access for all.
"Nothing is more enduring than health," said Linda P. Fried, Dean and DeLamar Professor of Public Health, who is leading the Mailman School’s advocacy effort. "Health transforms communities, economies, and nations. Our students will be the next generation of public health leaders so it is critical that they recognize how to accomplish health as an indispensable element of equity and social justice."
The facts behind health access are easy to understand.
- Every year, one billion people cannot afford a doctor, medication, and other essential elements of care without risk of impoverishment.
- Households that go into debt to meet health care needs must often sacrifice sending a child to school, starting a business, or coping with other emergencies.
- One-third of all households in Africa and Southeast Asia must borrow to pay for health care.
- The poorest and most marginalized populations bear the brunt of preventable maternal deaths and diseases like HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
One Size Does Not Fit All
While experts agree that no “one size fits all” approach to universal health coverage, four core tenets are part of every effort to ensure coverage.
Prioritize the Poorest
- With the gap between rich and poor continuing to grow in most countries, it is important that the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable populations be considered first.
Increase Reliance on Public Funding
- Nations must invest in the health of their populations at a greater rate. Beyond the humanitarian benefits to their populations, population health is a vital catalyst of economic growth.
Reduce, if Not Eliminate, Out-Of-Pocket Spending
- Families and individuals who must contribute their own resources towards health care are the ones most likely to face economic catastrophe.
Develop the Health System
- In order to realize universal health access, countries need stronger health infrastructure, from facilities to trained workers to medication.
The Mailman School invites individuals and organizations to join us in solidarity. Organizations can sign on as a partner at http://www.universalhealthcoverageday.org/en/partners.html. Individuals can show their solidarity by displaying the Universal Health Coverage Day logo on their social media profiles and by following the campaign on Twitter and Facebook.