health care rwanda William Campbell/Corbis via Getty Images

The Keys to Universal Health Coverage

In 2015, the international community came together and committed to providing high-quality affordable health care to all 7.7 billion of the world's people. To achieve that goal, policymakers should focus on expanding primary care, sustaining political will, and harnessing the power of data.

DAR ES SALAAM – It has been three years since world leaders committed to one of the boldest goals ever set in global public health: achieving universal health coverage by 2030. Achieving this objective will mean that every person in every community has access to affordable care, both to prevent them from falling ill and to treat them when they do.

The stakes are simply too high not to deliver on this promise. We cannot eradicate poverty, protect people from pandemics, advance gender equality, or achieve any of the other 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) without accelerating progress toward universal health coverage.

Fortunately, national leaders are starting to take concrete steps toward expanding access to health care. As I, along with many others, have come to realize, success depends on first overcoming one of the most significant challenges in health: overly fragmented approaches to delivering care. Instead of treating one disease at a time, we need to establish systems in which people’s diverse health needs are treated side by side. Every woman should be able to turn to a trusted provider in her community to receive family planning services for herself, routine immunizations for her children, or diabetes treatments for an aging relative.

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