Antidote to Growing Inequality = Universal Healthcare: World Health Organization Head

Providing universal health coverage is a key way to address increasing global inequality, the head of the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan made the comment—which echoes previous comments she’s made—during a keynote address on the first of a two-day conference on universal health coverage taking place in Singapore.

“Universal health coverage is one of the most powerful social equalizers among all policy options. It is the ultimate expression of fairness,” Agence France-Presse quotes her as saying.

Achieving such coverage demands “deliberate policy decisions,” she said, adding, “At a time when policies in so many sectors are actually increasing social inequalities, I would be delighted to see health lead the world towards greater fairness in ways that matter to each and every person on the planet.”

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The WHO defines the goal of universal health coverage as ensuring “that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them,” and describes such coverage as “the hallmark of a government’s commitment to improve the well-being of all its citizens.”

A fact sheet from the UN body issued in September 2014 states:  “At least a billion people suffer each year because they cannot obtain the health services they need.”