Is Universal Health Coverage really available for all in the European Union?

kyriakides_

Ms. Stella Kyriakides, EU Commissioner responsible for Health (Co-operators: Photographer: Elyxandro Cegarra European Union, 2020 Source: EC – Audiovisual Service)

This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Ms. Nweke Ozioma Ruth, a Nigerian medical student, a member of Standing Committee on Sexual reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS and Gender Based violence[SCORA]; an organization under Nigerian Medical Students Association which is aimed at providing awareness on issues concerning sexual reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Several million people in the WHO European Region are impoverished and even more face financial hardship as a result of illness because they have to pay out-of-pocket for health care. These high levels of out-of-pocket payments undermine protection against the financial risk of ill-health and increase social inequalities. Universal health coverage involves extending coverage of health services to the whole population, expanding the range of effective services and reducing user charges

What is universal health coverage? According to WHO,

Universal health coverage (UHC) ensures that all people are able to access effective,  good-quality health services when they need them, without experiencing financial hardship. It reflects the values and principles underpinning health systems in Europe – universality, access to good-quality care, equity and solidarity.

Most countries in the WHO European Region offer universal population coverage,  but many people still have to pay out-of-pocket for needed health services. These Out-of-pocket payments are more likely to be catastrophic or impoverishing where levels of public spending on health are low. Medicines being usually the largest driver of high out-of-pocket payments. Sadly, Poorer people and those with chronic conditions are particularly likely to face  financial barriers to accessing health care. This widens the health divide within  and across countries.

The economic crisis has challenged UHC. Since the crisis began, some countries  have seen an increase in unmet needs for health care due to cost and an increase in the incidence of catastrophic or impoverishing out-of-pocket payments. Recent measures taken by the Spanish Government have broken the country’s universal health coverage. Spanish health policy is thus going in the opposite direction to recommendations from the WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health (CSDH) and in your Series on universal health coverage.

These measures represent an unwelcome move towards a system with different access and availability for different population groups. People who do not contribute to social security will not have access to health care unless they can demonstrate an income level below the poverty line or pay for services. Regional differences could also open up as the regional governments of some Autonomous Communities plan to implement palliative measures by giving provisional access to these population groups.

The WHO CSDH recommended reducing inequities by ensuring a good start in life, and having measures to support employment and good working environments. Instead, the Spanish Government has cut the budgets for sanitation and the public education system and has reduced benefits to families of lower socioeconomic status. Unemployment affects one in two people younger than 45 years, including most of the main family wage earners.

It would be easy to predict that the health of Spain’s next generation will be worse than that of the current one and that the health gap will increase unless governments, politicians, and civil society reverse the current trends on health and social policy. It is safe to say that there are people who are left behind in the Universal Health Coverage in Europe.

References

1.Lancet.com; Universal Health Coverage in Europe.

2.WHO; Universal Health Coverage.

About the author

Nweke Ozioma Ruth is a Nigerian medical student, a member of Standing Committee on Sexual reproductive Health, HIV/AIDS and Gender Based violence[SCORA]; an organization under Nigerian Medical Students Association which is aimed at providing awareness on issues concerning sexual reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. She is also a member of Live Mother and Child Initiative which is aimed at providing sexual and reproductive health and right related services to women in rural areas of eastern Nigeria. She has over one year experience working and volunteering with organizations and initiatives promoting sexual and reproductive health and right, comprehensive sexual education and Gender based violence advocacy.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

3 ways the coronavirus is affecting animals around the world

As Dubai switches on its first 5G, what is all the fuss about?

EU Blue Card: Commission welcomes political agreement on new rules for highly skilled migrant workers

Central banking in times of complexity

The European Parliament x-rays the troika’s doings

Single Market Scoreboard 2020: Member States need to do more to ensure the good functioning of the EU Single Market*

All at sea during COVID-19 lockdown? Try these sailor survival tips

Climate Change and Human Health: Two Faces of The Same Coin

One-in-five suffers mental health condition in conflict zones, new UN figures reveal

Atomic agency cites concerns over Iran testing sites, offers COVID-19 assistance

Stable growth momentum in the OECD area

Alarm over violent attacks on lawmakers, opposition in Malawi, ahead of elections

Soccer is back with strict COVID-19 rules. Here’s what you need to know

Why diversity needs your star power, as well as sponsors

How do we design an inclusive energy transition?

5 ways Coca-Cola is cleaning up its plastic footprint in Africa

Bolivia: UN underlines support for ‘credible, transparent and inclusive’ election

World Digital Media Awards winners announced at WNMC.19 in Glasgow, in association with The European Sting

Closing the gap in accelerating women’s rights: the role of medical students

Cambodia: Giving back to UN peacekeeping

These 5 charts reveal the gender and diversity gaps start-ups must bridge

With Caribbean island life under threat, UN chief pushes to face ‘headwinds together’

More women and girls needed in the sciences to solve world’s biggest challenges

MEPs adopt revised rules for road haulage operations in another EU country

Sudan military committed to ‘ensuring stability’ and ‘peaceful transition’ says senior diplomat, as UN rights chief appeals for protesters’ rights to be upheld

Electronic cigarette – is it really a safer alternative to smoking?

Here’s how private investors can turn plastic into gold

Croatian Presidency priorities discussed in the European Parliament

Removing sweets from supermarket checkouts could help fight obesity

JADE Romania Celebrates the 4th Anniversary

A neo-liberal toll free Paradise for the super rich and tax hell for wage earners

Coronavirus COVID-19 wipes $50 billion off global exports in February alone, as IMF pledges support for vulnerable nations

New seat projections for the next European Parliament

London is becoming the world’s first National Park City

Discussions kick off among MEPs and national MPs on economic governance

To build the workforce of the future, we need to revolutionize how we learn

EU elections 2019: Rise of nationalist trends and populism in Europe challenges the EU edifice

Infrastructural and system barriers to Universal Health Coverage: get in my patient’s shoes

How can newspapers survive? By measuring their social impact

From inconvenience to opportunity: the importance of international medical exchanges

Few countries are pricing carbon high enough to meet climate targets

EU boosts sustainable cocoa production in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Cameroon

The hidden downsides of autonomous vehicles – and how to avoid them

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of Eaton Hydraulics by Danfoss, subject to conditions

A silent killer: the impact of a changing climate on health

These are America’s most dangerous jobs

European Union: More taxes out of less income

The battle for the 2016 EU Budget to shake the Union; Commission and Parliament vs. Germany

Lithuania finds the ways to maintain its energy security

To be fair or to be sustainable? That is the (retirement) question

How to end overfishing in the global South

Almost there: Equal healthcare for LGBTQI+

If you want to make progress on all the major global challenges, start with water

Latest tragedy in the Mediterranean claims over 100 lives – UN refugee agency

Could play be a game-changer for the world’s forests?

EU budget 2022: Speeding up Europe’s recovery and progressing towards a green, digital and resilient future

3 things to know about India’s space programme

8th Euronest Assembly: the future of relations with Eastern partners

How Islamic finance can build resilience to climate change

How drones can unlock greener infrastructure inspection

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s