This year’s World Health Day (7 April) will focus on getting universal health coverage for everyone, with the World Health Organization (WHO) calling on world leaders to live up to the pledges made when they agreed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015.
In its 70th anniversary year, the WHO is ensuring that world leaders commit to concrete steps to advance universal health coverage, meaning everyone – everywhere – can access essential health services without financial strain by 2030.
Today, there are too many people who still miss out on health coverage and financial protection, with at least half the people in the world not receiving the essential health services they need.
The biggest struggle is the upkeep of payments for health services, which has resulted in around 100 million people being pushed into extreme poverty.
According to the WHO, over 800 million people spend at least 10% of their household budgets on health expenses for themselves, a sick child or other family members.
Missing out on health coverage
While the global ‘health economy’ grows faster than the global economy, people are missing out on forms of health coverage and financial protection.
The world spent a total of $7.3 trillion (~€5tr) on health in 2015, which represents close to 10% global gross domestic product. The annual growth rate in health expenditure between 2000 and 2015 was 4%, while the economic growth rate was 2.8%.
In order to achieve universal health coverage, domestic public financing is the most important source.
In high-income countries the government domestic fund as a share of current health expenditure rose from 66% to 70%, while in middle-income countries it rose from 48% to 51%. Low-income countries on the other hand saw a decline in share, from 30% to 22%.
Universal health coverage is already happening
Universal health coverage is being approached by countries in different ways. The World Health Day campaign highlights some of the benefits that universal health coverage has on people and nations and the role the WHO plays around the world.