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Experts argue for universal health coverage prioritization at G20 summit

An interdisciplinary team of experts has published a commentary aimed at world leaders meeting for the G20 Summit this week in Japan. The authors are asking for the G20 leaders to focus on improving and expanding their countries’ health care systems. 

The experts suggest that funding for low- and middle-income nations must be increased to address the growing impacts of climate change, wars and conflicts, and a global political trend toward nationalism. They noted that domestic funding is also needed to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including universal health coverage.

“Achieving universal health coverage should be at the top of the agenda for this meeting of world leaders,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington

“The G20 leaders should assess how to encourage channeling resources to improve primary health care, as well as prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases and to strengthen and support leadership, governance and accountability across all levels of health systems. We’ve witnessed a decade of plateaued funding and with the deadline to meet the SDGs just 11 years away, the world is watching.”

The experts examined trends in spending for international development between 2012 and 2017. They are urging the G20 leaders to address three important questions, including how funds are allocated to deliver equitable health improvement in people’s lives, how these funds are delivered to strengthen health systems, and how domestic spending is supported in poor countries to create effective partnerships for universal health coverage.

“The landscape of development assistance for health is evolving, and therefore ripe for any desired realignment,” wrote the commentary authors. “Reductions in child poverty and fertility throughout the world mean that many countries are undergoing demographic and epidemiological transitions, with their populations living longer and enduring a more diverse set of ailments.”

The team found that from 2000 to 2010, development assistance for health grew at a rate of 10 percent annually, but annual funding plateaued at a growth rate of 1.3 percent in the years that followed. 

“The global health challenges and expansive set of global health goals in the SDGs require a new approach to address pending questions about how development assistance for health can better prioritize equity, efficiency, and sustainability, particularly through domestic resource use and mobilization and strategic partnerships.” 

The commentary is published in the journal The Lancet.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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Image Credit: Shutterstock/Janews

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