Accelerating progress towards Universal Health Coverage
Against the backdrop of a deep concern to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030, Education as a Vaccine joined other stakeholders on March 14th, at the WHO and Civil Society Meeting on HIV, STIs, Tuberculosis and Universal Health Coverage in Geneva to put in place mechanisms to ensure the target is met.
At the event, Izundu Kosichukwu, EVA’s Program Coordinator made case for a comprehensive health package that will include the implementation of programs that are tailored to the needs of adolescents and young people, especially, adolescent girls and young women, sexual and reproductive health, as well as meaningful youth participation to strengthen broader health system.
Universal Health Coverage (UHC) means every person can access quality health services without experiencing financial hardship, notwithstanding whom they are and where they live
The WHO draft Thirteenth General Program of Work 2019-2023 is structured around three interconnected strategic priorities to include; advancing universal health coverage, addressing health emergencies, and promoting healthier populations to ensure healthy lives and well-being for all people at all ages.
Closely linked to the priorities of the WHO general program of work are WHO Global Health Sector Strategies on HIV, Viral Hepatitis and STIs for 2016 to 2021, which include interventions for impact – improving the range, quality and availability of essential health interventions and services; delivering for equity – improving the equitable and optimal uptake of services in relation to need; and financing for sustainability – allocating adequate resources, reducing costs and providing financial protection for those who need services. This is otherwise known as the three dimensions of universal health coverage.
In Nigeria, Education as a Vaccine has been at the forefront of promoting Universal Health Coverage by advocating for the implementation of National Health Act (NHA) which among other things will provide for a National Health System that promotes, protects and fulfills the rights of the people of Nigeria to have access to health care services. The implementation of the NHA will provide opportunities to advance adolescents and young people’s sexual and reproductive health.
During a session on Community Panel: Essential Interventions in UHC Package, Kosichukwu showcased EVA’s work currently being implemented in Benue state and the Federal Capital Territory on counseling and testing for adolescents and young people as well as referral to treatment, care and support.
She also acknowledged and pointed out the importance of addressing legal barriers to accessing prevention and care services to reach adolescents and young people. In her words, “the legal age of consent in Nigeria to services (i.e. HIV testing) is 18 years old. Often times, parents refuse to allow their children get tested for fear of being labeled and discriminated against by the family and community members even when the adolescents give their assent and this is a major challenge”.
At the meeting, EVA used the platform to remind policymakers and relevant stakeholders of the need to realize UCH by 2030 and implement the Nigeria’s NHA, and its benefits, while reiterating the call to ensure that high-level policy commitments translate to a meaningful change in the lived realities of women and girls.