Universal Health Coverage, Eye Health and Accountability

IAPB Advocacy Manager
Organisation: IAPB

Universal Health Coverage day banner, with a child getting an eye exam

Join IAPB in celebrating and promoting the second Universal Health Coverage Day (#HealthForAll) on 12th December. 

Universal health coverage is of such importance as it is grounded in rights and thus responsibility of governments to uphold them, in strengthening health systems, and in improving health promotion and health services of all people particularly those otherwise unable to pay for health care or unable to access health care. If done right UHC can be, as Margaret Chan has called it, a major equalizer.

As the ‘Global Action Plan: Towards Universal Eye Health’ recognises, reducing avoidable blindness will require integrated comprehensive systems and progress on universal access. Strengthened equitable health systems, the right and well distributed personnel and reaching those who cannot afford services will be an essential foundation to make significant and sustainable inroads on eye health. 

One of the buzzwords getting a lot of focus at the moment in international cooperation including in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (#globalgoals) is “accountability”, and universal health coverage will offer considerable opportunities and require significant efforts to ensure accountability is meaningful. The most important form of accountability is in the direction towards those who need help – in eye health’s case those most in need and who with treatment or with rehabilitation can have improved well-being and better opportunities in life.

IAPB and members have been actively promoting universal health coverage and within this ensuring attention to eye health, succeeding in getting inclusion of Cataract Surgical Coverage (#CSC) within the first WHO/WB monitoring report
See also IAPB’s CSC report for further information. 

Including CSC within measurement at global level is an important step, but to ensure changes in practice, and widen the scope to other eye health areas from promotion through to prevention and rehabilitation, will require engaging with national level and local accountability mechanisms to promote attention to eye health within UHC at the national level.

It means advocating for inclusion of eye health in policy, that is in Social insurance and other schemes that are intended to progress UHC, but also importantly monitoring such programmes to ensure that in practice it is indeed accessed by those in need, and providing evidence quantitative and qualitative to advance the cause and direct change when there are problems with access.

This will require working in alliances collectively engaging making best use of accountability and advocacy platforms, and in many cases will require providing civil society technical support and resources for advocacy, as it won’t happen out of thin air.