Universal Health Coverage Part 2: How India can fight non-communicable diseases
Editor's Note: This is the second article in a two-part series on Universal Health Coverage. You can read the first part here.
The gender disparity in healthcare access is closely related to the condition of women health workers, especially in countries like India. This is primarily because women find it much easier to open up to healthcare providers they identify with or who are from the same community, like the ASHAs (accredited social health activists). While conducting more research into women’s health issues is extremely important, it is equally important to bolster the professional lives of women health workers.
The WHO, under its current Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has identified three critical reasons why the situation of women health workers needs to change:
- Female healthcare providers of all ages are underpaid and, in some cases, unpaid too. They do their jobs despite not having decent working conditions and sometimes face harassment and violence while doing it. If the healthcare system depends on these women, they should be treated better and have the right to equal pay without conditions.
- With the growing demand for healthcare facilities, there has to be an equal supply of healthcare providers. The WHO has predicted that the world will need 40 million health workers by 2030, and a large number of these will have to be women to ensure grassroots level effectiveness of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) plans.
- Men hold 75% of the senior roles in the global health system which is run predominantly by women workers. Women and their contributions need to be recognised as well as rewarded more for the UHC to be successful.
The 8 recommendations to reduce the occurrence of NCDs
These issues need to be addressed immediately so that the disparities that both female patients and healthcare workers face internationally can be resolved. This apart, the WHO’s Independent High-Level Commission has come out with a report that lists eight recommendations that can help global healthcare systems fight non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, respiratory diseases and mental health conditions. These diseases cause the bulk of deaths globally, and the recommendations of the commission — which includes world leaders and health experts — are a good way to start cracking down on the spread of these diseases.
The following are the eight recommendations:
- The heads of all the member states and their governments — including the government departments, businesses, civil society groups and healthcare experts and professionals — must be encouraged to fulfil their commitments towards providing aid and relief to people who are suffering from or are at the risk of contracting NCDs.
- The WHO and all member states must ensure global and local environments that encourage people to make healthy lifestyle choices and make public all the information people need to make these healthy choices.
- All nations must be encouraged to invest further in the prevention and control of NCDs. Capital and economic growth should occur keeping these investment targets in mind.
- Any services that work to prevent or treat NCDs locally or globally should be given prime focus and be included in the UHC plans.
- Every government should ensure that healthcare systems and their services are not taxing on anybody’s pockets, especially the poor. Social protection must be provided for those who might fall into poverty when attempting to access healthcare services.
- The WHO must provide technical support to all member states so that they can start effective national response programmes to fight NCDs. The WHO must also increase engagements with businesses that are capable of aiding these programmes.
- The WHO must encourage governments to engage in regular and positive conversations with civil society regarding NCDs and healthcare issues.
- To support member states in their fight against NCDs, the WHO must encourage the creation of multi-donor trust funds.
To learn more about women's health issues, please visit our section on Women’s Health.
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Updated Date: Jan 09, 2020 13:45:36 IST
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