Making UHC work for women

As a global federation with 132 country member societies, FIGO has always believed in the principles of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) movement.

Every person - no matter who they are, where they live, or how much money they have - should be able to access health services without suffering financial hardship.

As the global voice of women’s health, we strongly believe that the success of UHC cannot only be measured in reaching half the world’s population currently without care; it has to meet their specific needs.

A key theme of the UHC movement is ‘investing more and smarter.’ For women, girls and adolescents, this means integrating sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

Gaps in coverage are widespread, especially for marginalised populations and services that are stigmatised. But availability of high quality care and information and support for health care professionals to ensure accountable care is fundamental to ensuring every woman achieves the highest possible standards of physical and mental health and wellbeing throughout her life.

Said Dr Anita Makins, Director for FIGO’s PPIUD (post-partum IUD) Project:

“Sexual and reproductive health and rights are fundamental to the health and wellbeing of women, and key determinants for everything that follows: gender equality, education, employment, security...Integrating SRHR into Universal Health Coverage is the surest way of making it truly universal and honestly sustainable.”

Another key theme of UHC and the SDGs is ‘leave no one behind.’ At FIGO, we believe this means fully recognising the intergenerational burden of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and the urgency of integrating preconception health and support into UHC.

Says Dr Githinji Gitahi, Global CEO and Director General of AMREF Health Africa Group, and the new Co-Chair of the UHC2030 Steering Committee:

“Health is made at home. Many governments moving towards UHC, may be tempted to put money into curative care, but the most important concept to understand for UHC is that we must focus on maintaining health, not curing disease.”

FIGO repeatedly advocates that health does not begin at birth: it begins in the womb. Integration of maternal and child health services with health promotion and NCD prevention is critical to averting the punishing cycle of mother-to-child transmission of NCDs, currently on track to kill an estimated 52 million people annually by 2030.

In September 2019, the United Nations will hold the first-ever UN High-Level Meeting on UHC, during the 2019 UNGA. Member states will make tangible commitments, mobilising domestic resources towards expanding care in their countries.

As the leading professional society in the field of gynecology and obstetrics, in official relations with WHO, FIGO has a global reach that brings expertise to the global UHC movement in the following areas:

- addressing health workforce knowledge and skills gaps
- improving community engagement and health literacy
- the global advocacy movement
- technical assistance for global guidance
- leveraging collaborations and partnerships to broadly support the movement  

Health for All’ is a guiding vision for Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Secretary-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). He recently told a story about a young boy in a remote part of Ghana whose life was saved thanks to affordable and easy access to quality care.

“That’s the essence of Universal Health Coverage (UHC). We’re here for him. For a billion like him. We must be motivated, inspired and driven by every story.”

FIGO’s members, clinicians like Dr Tedros, are likewise inspired and driven by the stories of their patients. Together, we are committed to the principles, the imperative and the road ahead that leads to health for all

Image - PPIUD Project training in Bangladesh