Ethiopia commemorates Universal Health Coverage Day

Ethiopia commemorates Universal Health Coverage Day with a high-level advocacy event with the call to Leave No One’s Health Behind: “Invest in Health Systems for All.”

The advocacy event is organized by the Ethiopian Ministry of Health (MoH) together with other sector ministries, World Health Organization ( WHO), Save the Children and the Consortium of Christian Relief and Development Associations (CCRDA). The objective of the event is to speak with one voice for universal health coverage in Ethiopia.

Every year on December 12, the world comes together to commemorate Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day to commemorate the 2012 United Nations unanimous endorsement of UHC as an essential health priority for international development.

The Day is a reminder that millions still lack access to essential health services and is an opportunity to raise awareness and call on leaders, policymakers, donors, partners, and the public to act to make universal health coverage a reality.

This year, Ethiopia is commemorating UHC Day with an advocacy campaign that aims to advocate for the importance of UHC and primary health care and spur actions from the government, policy makers, and all stakeholders to ensure that by 2030, universal health coverage is accessible to everyone, everywhere in Ethiopia without any financial barriers.

Each year, more than 800 million people spend over 10% of their income on healthcare. Such catastrophic health expenditure pushes millions into poverty. In Africa, more than 4.5 million people are driven into extreme poverty due to health care expenses.

Mindful of this, the MoH has introduced healthcare initiatives and social protection schemes. With the effective implementation of the community-based health insurance system, health services have been made accessible to the majority of our community, but the coverage needs to be expanded to ensure the benefit of the entire community.

According to the National Health Account (NHA) study, the total expenditure on health has increased dramatically from 1.6 billion USD in 2010/2011 to 3.1 billion USD in 2016/17. Expenditure per capita has increased from 21 to 33 USD during the same period. The government’s health budget has increased three-fold since 2010/11, Per capita government spending on health has grown from 3.3 USD in 2010/2011 to 10.6 USD in 2016/17.

Nowadays, the Ministry of Health has integrated universal health coverage as a core objective in its five-year Health Sector Transformation Plan (HSTP II) – 2020/21-2024/5-with an emphasis on improving access to primary health care.

In order to facilitate the successful implementation of HSTP II and mitigate the impacts of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and other public health events on the realization of UHC, partners and all stakeholders need to renew their commitment to invest in UHC so that everyone, everywhere in Ethiopia can enjoy their right to quality healthcare.