Health for All: Time for Action – Universal Health Coverage Day 2023

Written by Amina Yaqoob, PallCHASE Intern
December 12, 2023

Every year, on December 12, the world observes Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day, which serves as a global reminder of the significance of universal access to quality and affordable health care for everyone, everywhere. This year’s theme is, “Health for All: Time for Action” which highlights the necessity of taking concrete and urgent actions, and urges leaders to implement policies that ensure everyone has equitable access to necessary health services without facing financial hardship. The theme also reminds us that the world continues to experience a growing number of humanitarian crises such as conflicts, climate-related disasters, and epidemics.

The persistent humanitarian crises negatively affect human health, with a disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations such as those living with chronic health conditions. These crises also lead to loss of livelihood, displacement, emotional distress, and social suffering. And those living with pre-existing health conditions and in need of special care experience heightened health challenges and encounter new health issues. Not only that, during these crises, the healthcare systems face disruption, damage, and overwhelming pressure.

Due to disruption in the healthcare infrastructure, lack of medical resources, and disruption of routine health services it becomes challenging to deliver health services, especially specialized care including palliative care. Annually, 56.8 million people require palliative care, and only 14% of those in need receive it.

“Palliative care is an approach that seeks to improve the quality of life, to prevent and alleviate the suffering of patients and their families facing life-threatening illnesses, through early detection, diagnosis and treatment of pain” (World Health Organization, 2020).

Access to palliative care is a human right and it should be protected in times of humanitarian crisis, be it due to conflict or natural disasters. It is a legal obligation as well as the ethics of humanitarian action to ensure access to palliative care as a means of alleviating suffering and respecting human dignity.

Palliative care is also an essential component of UHC, and should be provided according to its principles, that all people, regardless of their location, disease, and income should have access to basic health services including palliative care.

On this day of UHC celebration, we highlight the critical role that palliative care plays and we urge decision-makers to invest in this type of care, lend their support in strengthening the health systems, as well as engage with communities—particularly in light of the growing threat of pandemics and climate change—to protect communities, meet their health needs, and to make sure that no one is left behind.


Add a Listing

Fill in the form below and we'll verify the posting and add to the Map.