Gambia commemorates Universal Health Coverage Day

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Oumie Mendy

The Ministry of Health has recently joined the rest of the world in commemorating the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) day.

This day was set aside in 2017, by the United Nations to raise awareness of the need for strong and resilient health system and to provide access to Universal Health Coverage as well.

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The event was graced by dignitaries under the theme ‘build the the world: we want a healthy feature for all’.

Speaking at the ceremony, Dr. Gibril Jarjue, Director of Planning at the ministry of health said the ministry opted to commemorate this day to galvanize more support for the health sector, call on leaders to make smarter investments in health and remind the world about the imperative of universal health coverage.

“UHC lifts people out of poverty, promotes the well-being of families and communities, protects against public health crises and moves toward the the concept of ‘health for all’.

UHC means all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. And to ensure full spectrum of essential, quality health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care across the life course.”

“The government of the Gambia is conscious of high cost of accessing health care by households which currently stands at 24.55% (NHA, 2019) of the total Health Expenditure and this is precisely the reason why government introduces National Health Insurance Scheme to reduce out-of-pocket expenditure on health.

Achieving UHC is one of the targets the nations of the world set when adopting the SDGs in 2015. Countries reaffirmed their commitments at the United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on UHC in 2019.”

He thanked the supporting partners and assured the ministry’s unflinching support to the realization of the concept on Universal Health Coverage in the Gambia.

Makawa Makawa-sy, WHO program managing officer congratulated the Ministry of Health and its partners on their first ever commemoration of UHC Day in The Gambia.

Saying Gambia’s new health policy and strategic plans are focused on UHC.

“The vision of the new health policy is a healthier and more productive population through Universal Health coverage.

UHC requires countries to meet health needs of all and make sure no one is left behind.

He added that to attain UHC demands a great detail on reduction of health inequality, expansion of quality health care services for all and protection of people from financial hardship.

He said while medical care at public facilities is free or highly subsidized for essential medicines and some diagnostic services, irregular access to service has kept Gambia’s UHC from advancing faster.

He reconfirms that WHO will continue to support the Gambia’s ambition and progress towards Universal health coverage, as it is a critical component of sustainable development and poverty reduction and reducing social inequalities.