Toward Universal Health Coverage: Ensuring Older People Are Not Left Behind

 © Judith Escribano/Age International

On September 23rd, heads of state attended the UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to agree on a political declaration that will set out governments’ responsibilities for providing universal access to affordable and quality health services for all. UHC ensures all people can access quality essential health services without the risk of financial hardship. Achieving UHC is essential for inclusive development, prosperity, and gender equality. However, progress on UHC efforts for older people remains unequal and limited. We must ensure governments include older people in UHC efforts. Read what must be prioritized in UHC commitments and our response to the political declaration. Read our overview of the High-Level meeting and what UHC fit for an aging world looks like.

Current efforts on UHC have failed to address the specific barriers older people face in accessing health and care services and protect them from financial hardship. By 2020 more than 1 billion people will be aged 60 and over. This is a triumph of development, but, as people get older, their health and care needs are likely to become increasingly complex. To ensure health and care systems are prepared for this global demographic transition, UHC efforts must be inclusive of older people. At the upcoming UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage, HelpAge is calling for:

  • States to champion a life-course approach to essential health services.
  • The removal of upper age caps from indicators used to monitor progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, related to health or otherwise.
  • Commitments to improving the integration of health and social care services that support the physical and cognitive functioning of older adults.
  • The availability, affordability, and accessibility of essential medicines and assistive devices for all people of all ages.

Universal Health Coverage UHC must include older people

 

Current efforts on UHC have failed to address the specific barriers older people face in accessing health and care services and protect them from financial hardship.

HelpAge is calling on heads of state to commit to UHC and to support the inclusion of older people in efforts to achieve it. Health service packages must address the specific barriers older people face, prioritizing an integrated, holistic, and people-centered approach that includes accessible health services and long-term care. If we are to resolve the inequities entrenched in our health systems, we must ensure older people are not left behind.

Read our response to the final UHC High-Level Meeting Political Declaration.

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