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WHO, World Bank Meeting On Universal Health Coverage Begins In Geneva

A two-day WHO and World Bank ministerial-level meeting on universal health coverage (UHC) began in Geneva on Monday, bringing “together ministers of finance and health from 27 countries with other high-level stakeholders” to discuss “exploring ways that countries are progressing towards universal health coverage, sharing innovative solutions and identifying actions the global community can take to support efforts,” the Global Dispatch reports. “According to the WHO, UHC is about ensuring that all people have access to services that promote good health, prevent illness, offer treatment and rehabilitation,” the news service writes, adding, “The services must be of good quality and effective, and people must not suffer financial hardship when paying for them” (2/18).

In her opening remarks, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said, “I regard universal coverage as the single most powerful concept that public health has to offer. It is the best way to cement the health gains made during the previous decade. It operationalizes the highest ethical principles of public health. It is a powerful social equalizer and the ultimate expression of fairness” (2/18). On Thursday, the World Bank Group “released a set of 22 case studies of countries that have significantly expanded access to health care in the last decade, with the aim of helping countries make more informed health policy and program choices,” according to a World Bank press release. “Based on findings from the studies, the Bank is testing a new universal coverage assessment tool (UNICAT) that will help countries assess their strengths and weaknesses in implementing UHC,” the press release states (2/14).