Universal health coverage is WHO’s number one goal. Key to achieving it is ensuring that everyone can obtain the care they need, when they need it, right in the heart of the community. Progress is being made in countries in all regions of the world. But millions of people still have no access at all to health care. Millions more are forced to choose between health care and other daily expenses such as food, clothing and even a home. This is why WHO is focusing on universal health coverage for this year’s World Health Day, on 7 April.
“April 7 of each year marks the celebration of World Health Day. This year’s World Health Day will focus on equity and solidarity. From its inception at the First Health Assembly in 1948 and since taking effect in 1950, the celebration has aimed to create awareness of a specific health theme to highlight a priority area of concern for the World Health Organization. Over the past 50 years this has brought to light important health issues such as mental health, maternal and child care, and climate change. The celebration is marked by activities which extend beyond the day itself and serves as an opportunity to focus worldwide attention on these important aspects of global health,” says Ministry of Health and Family Welfare communique.
Here in India, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare along with World Health Organisation (WHO) on 4th April 2019 formed a Solidarity Human Chain as part of the World Health Day celebrations to reaffirm their commitment to bridging gaps and working collaboratively towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The theme of World Health Day 2019 is Universal Health Coverage: Everyone, Everywhere.
Speaking at the function, Preeti Sudan, Secretary (Health) stated that this event emphasises our commitment to ensure all people and communities have access to quality healthcare services, where and when they are required, without suffering financial hardship. At the event, Preeti Sudan also administered the solidarity pledge to work towards making universal health care available to everyone, everywhere.
Manoj Jhalani (AS&MD), Dr S. Venkatesh, DGHS, Dr. Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative India along with other senior officers of the Ministry and representatives from WHO were also present at the function.
Secretary (Health) further stated that Ayushman Bharat has two components – Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) for Primary Health Care and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY) for secondary and tertiary care. These components are linked to address the major challenges of ensuring continuum of care, two-way referral system and gatekeeping.
Preeti Sudan said that the government is committed to strengthening 1,50,000 health facilities as Health and Wellness Centres which will deliver Comprehensive Primary Health Care closer to where people live in the rural and urban areas. “As of today, more than 17,000 HWCs are operational across the country and are providing services for non-communicable diseases in addition to existing services for reproductive and child health, communicable diseases etc,” Ms. Preeti Sudan elaborated.
Speaking at the event, World Health Organisation Representative to India Dr. Henk Bekedam said, “A well-equipped primary health care delivery system is the key to achieving universal health coverage. This will require bringing quality care closer to people; strengthening peripheral health centres with linkages to secondary and tertiary care; and equipping primary health care providers to effectively deliver a package of preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative services. Let’s join hands to work on this.”