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To Achieve #HealthForAll We Need Health Workers for All

woman in a health clinic in Uganda

Patient at a clinic in Uganda. Photo by Trevor Snapp for IntraHealth International.


Universal health coverage is about the money—the cost of reaching people with health care and the human and economic costs of not reaching them.

But it’s really about people—those who need care and those who provide it.

It’s about the people stuck in the vicious cycle of poverty caused by medical bankruptcy when they can’t afford health care but often are too ill to work. And it’s about the health workers and the support they need to reach everyone with essential health care.

Health care is an investment, one that pays off not only in saving lives and improving the quality of life, but also in building stronger economies. 

Health care is an investment, one that pays off not only in saving lives and improving the quality of life, but also in building stronger economies. We need strong investments by governments and donors to bring health care to those who continue to be left behind, often the poorest of the poor. And we need to focus on health workers and work with their communities to ensure those investments are specific and effective.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. At IntraHealth International, we start by working with our private and public health sector partners to engage communities, strengthen primary health care systems, and identify and support health workers to deliver high-quality, essential services.

Sometimes this means expanding the definition or job description of a health worker.  Private sector logisticians are erasing contraceptive stockouts across Senegal. A data guru in South Sudan is revealing where HIV services are most needed. Nurses are stepping up to the plate to manage health teams in rural Zambia. Health workers like these are the heart of health care and a prerequisite for universal health coverage.

Today as we commemorate Universal Health Coverage Day, take a moment to consider the diverse skills and roles required to deliver health care and to encourage those pursuing these essential careers. (Take a moment, too, to sign this petition to make Universal Health Coverage Day an official awareness day on the global calendar every year.)

Then check out these five vital perspectives on what it will take to reach #HealthForAll by 2020.

  1. The Future of Health Financing
    We’re working toward a day when health coverage is universal and our global population has unprecedented options for health care. But how will we afford it?
  2. To Tackle Noncommunicable Diseases, We Must Invest in Frontline Health Workers
    A new policy report explores the challenges we face in addressing NCDs, and offers recommendations to overcome them.
  3. A Safe Bet: Investing in Resilient Health Systems for Everyone 
    Health systems are only as strong as the people who work within them.
  4. Africa Will Be Short 6 Million Health Workers by 2030
    But its countries could still achieve universal health coverage if they take action now.
  5. Nurses Will Take Zambia to Universal Health Coverage 
    Meet the country's secret weapons.