Universal Health Coverage

I agree that all individuals and communities regardless of where they live should receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. I know that UK aid plays a vital role in developing healthcare systems around the world.

In 2017, the most recent year for which there is data, the UK provided £926 million in bilateral aid for health. This represents 10.5% of all bilateral aid; a similar proportion (11.6%) of UK multilateral aid in 2016 was spent on health. The country where the most bilateral aid was spent on health in 2017 was Nigeria, followed by the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Between 1990 and 2017, the UK was the second largest national donor of health aid, donating $5 billion over this period.

The Secretary of State for International Development, Alok Sharma, attended the UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage last month where he reiterated the UK’s “ambitious and vital” commitment to achieving the goal of Universal Health Coverage. Here are some key excerpts from his speech:

“The UK has a world-class health system. For over 70 years, our National Health Service has delivered safe healthcare free at the point of us to the British people. We fully support international efforts on universal health coverage.
This is urgent. Every day around 800 women around the world die needlessly in childbirth or through unsafe pregnancies – all because of a lack of basic healthcare.
The UK is committed to defending and promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights. Women and girls must have control over their bodies, and access to services they need.”

“I am therefore very pleased to announce a £600 million Reproductive Health Supplies programme. This will help 20 million women and girls to access family planning and prevent five million unintended pregnancies each year up to 2025.”

“Countries must invest public resources in universal health coverage to protect the poorest. This means addressing causes of illness and death like malnutrition and unsafe water and sanitation, and the threat posed by antimicrobial resistance. We must spend carefully to help as many people as possible.”

The full speech is available to read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/alok-sharma-speech-to-un-general-assembly-on-universal-health-coverage

Last month, the Secretary of State was asked to make an assessment of the implications for his Department’s policies of the conclusions of the report published on 23 September by Save the Children entitled “Transformative Aid: How UK aid can transform global development and children’s futures.” A minister replied to say that DFID had reviewed the report and welcomed its focus on long-term, systemic change. They reiterated the fact that women and girls’ health and education are a top priority and highlighted the announced £600 million in new funding for family planning supplies, as well as a £515 million package of support for education. The UK will also host the Vaccine Alliance pledging conference next year to help create a healthier world.

I support the Government in its pledged commitments and would urge for continued UK financial and political support for universal health coverage.