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

Governments should renew efforts to reform support to agriculture

UN gender agency hails record-breaking number of women in new US Congress as ‘historic victory’

UN chief welcomes Taliban’s temporary truce announcement, encourages all parties to embrace ‘Afghan-owned peace’

World Summit Awards 2016: Sustainable impact through digital innovation

GSMA Mobile 360 – Latin America at Mexico City: Intelligently Connecting to a Better Future, in association with The European Sting

A European young student shares his thoughts on Quality Education

Algorithms are being used to convict criminals and decide jail time. We need to make sure they are fair

How regenerative agroforestry could solve the climate crisis

UN chief laments ending of Cold War-era disarmament treaty

Russia and the West use the same tactics to dismember Ukraine

Brexit: MEPs concerned about citizens’ rights

EU-Japan relations: Foreign Affairs MEPs back Strategic Partnership Agreement

How can you or your organization support the Hour of Pride initiative?

From Russia with love: Brussels and Moscow close to an agreement on Ukraine’s gas supplies

It’s time to build a responsible media supply chain

Amazon on fire: the interference in global health

Statement by OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría on the outcome of COP 25

COVID-19 lockdown hits working mothers harder than fathers

Can privatisation be the panacea for the lack of growth in Europe?

Beyond 2020: How the world might recover and rebuild, according to experts

“The Arctic climate matters: to what degree?”, a Sting Exclusive co-authored by UN Environment’s Jan Dusik and Slava Fetisov

5G security: Member States report on progress on implementing the EU toolbox and strengthening safety measures

IMF: The global economy keeps growing except Eurozone

‘No steps taken’ so far to end Israel’s illegal settlement activity on Palestinian land – UN envoy

These are the countries best prepared for the fight against cancer

Guinea-Bissau needs ‘genuinely free and fair elections’ to break cycle of instability

A Sting Exclusive: “Delivering on the Environmental Dimension of the new Sustainable Development Agenda”, Ulf Björnholm underscores from UNEP Brussels

COVID-19: A new drug is tested, and other top science stories of the week

OECD tells Eurozone to prepare its banks for a tsunami coming from developing countries

Tax evasion and fraud threaten the European project

To all far-right partisans who exploit Charlie Hebdo atrocity: a peaceful reply given by a peaceful student

UN General Assembly President upholds value of multilateralism in speech closing annual debate

Australia wildfires: communities must stay vigilant, urges UN weather agency

The power of partnership: joining forces to fight financial crime

Climate change and health: an everyday solution

Russia: MEPs deplore military build-up, attack in Czechia and jailing of Navalny

The financial sector cripples Eurozone growth prospects

Trump’s trade wars: Aiming at long term gains for America

As children freeze to death in Syria, aid officials call for major cross-border delivery boost

3 steps to making multistakeholder partnerships a powerful force

Returning to free movement across borders is of utmost importance

Commission launches debate on responding to the impact of an ageing population

China joins list of nations banning the sale of old-style fossil-fuelled vehicles

“As German Chancellor I want to be able to cope with the merger of the real and digital economy”, Angela Merkel from Switzerland; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

Telecommunications and Internet: A Jungle with no principles?

Are we at risk of a financial crisis? Our new report takes a look

UN political chief calls for dialogue to ease tensions in Venezuela; Security Council divided over path to end crisis

COP21 Breaking News_09 December: The Draft Agreement Updated

An expert explains: How to turn industrial carbon emissions into building materials

Q&A on extraordinary remote participation procedure

COP22 addresses a strong global pledge to effectively implement the Paris Agreement

The ECB will do whatever it takes to set the Eurozone economy again in motion

ECB embarks on the risky trip to Eurozone banking universe

The US may be “open” to reviving TTIP, while the EU designs the future of trade with China

Businesses succeed internationally

Commission celebrates the 30th anniversary of the Jean Monnet Activities promoting European studies worldwide

Women vital for ‘new paradigm’ in Africa’s Sahel region, Security Council hears

Amazon fires: Health Effects, Near and Far

Journey of my life

Eurozone: Economic sentiment-business climate to collapse without support from exports

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