UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE TESTED DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC – EDITOR’S OBSERVATIONS

Editorial By : M L Mazaba

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Citation Style For This Article: Mazaba ML. Universal Health Coverage Tested During The COVID-19 Pandemic – Editor’s observations . Health Press Zambia Bull. 2020; 4(3); pp 1.

Following the endorsement of a resolution by the United Nations General Assembly on 12th December 2012 urging countries to accelerate progress toward Universal Health Coverage (UHC), 12 December was proclaimed as International Universal Health Coverage Day (UHC Day) by resolution 72/138 in the year 2017 [1]. UHC resolves around ensuring that everyone everywhere has access to quality, affordable health care as an essential priority for international development. The World Health Organisation indicates that Universal Health Coverage (UHC) means that all the people and communities can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the users to financial hardship [2]. Zambia’s goal of attaining Universal Health Coverage is amplified in its strategic plans including ‘Vision 2030, ‘7Th National development Plan’ and ‘National Health Strategic Plan 2017/21’ emphasising the need to provide the Zambian people with equitable access to cost effective, quality health services as close to the family as possible [3]. Barely a year since the declaration of dedicating a day to remember and re-emphasise Universal Health Coverage Day (UHC Day), all countries that were part of the resolution were tested with the COVID-19 pandemic. As countries closed borders, those in the third world were constrained with access to medicines and medical consumables as well as essential commodities. Many countries report hindrances in delivering routine healthcare services and reaching globally agreed and nationally set targets. We also observe countries that were better placed resilient health systems also broken down as they were overwhelmed with patients requiring critical care and management. While Zambia also faces challenges in securing essential commodities, medicines and medical supplies, the country as part of its COVID-19 multisectoral strategic response has included ‘maintenance of routine healthcare services’ as a strategic pillar. Recognizing the set-backs in heath seeking behavior towards immunization, sexual and reproductive health, maternal and child health, care for the ageing, and management of both infectious and non-infectious diseases, Zambia continues to resource mobilise, capacity build and safeguard commodities for essential and routine health services. Resources including vaccines are continually shared equitably across the country. The Editor agrees with the sentiments by Secretary-General António Guterres who said “In responding to the pandemic, we have seen rapid innovative approaches to health service delivery and models of care, and advances in preparedness. We must learn from this experience. For Universal Health Coverage Day, let us commit to end this crisis and build a safer and healthier future by investing in health systems that protect us all — now.”[1].

LIST OF REFERENCES

1.United Nations. https://www.un.org/en/observances/universal-health-coverage-day

2.World Health organisation. https://www.who.int/campaigns/universal-health-coverage-day/universal-health-coverageday-2020

3.Ministry of Health Reports.