African Health Monitor
Universal health coverage (UHC) aims to provide health care and financial protection to all people in a given country with three related objectives: equity in access – everyone who needs health services should get them, and not simply those who can pay for them; quality of health services – good enough to improve the health of those receiving the services; and financial-risk protection – ensuring that the cost of health care does not put people at risk of financial hardship. It is a powerful concept in public health, and one of the key areas of progress in health in the African Region.
This special issue of the African Health Monitor has a dual objective: firstly, it offers an overview of research on the subject of UHC in Africa; and secondly, it provides wider dissemination of research results presented and discussed in African scientific meetings. All the articles of this special issue originated from presentations made during the African Health Economics and Policy Association (AfHEA) 3rd biennial scientific conference held in Nairobi in March 2014. Eleven of the 188 presentations made at the conference were selected by a joint team of WHO staff and AfHEA members and expanded into full papers for publication in the Monitor.
- The African Health Monitor is the magazine of the WHO Regional Office for Africa. Other WHO journals:
- Bulletin of the World Health Organization
- Eastern Mediterranean Health Journal
- Pan American Journal of Public Health
- WHO South-East Asia Journal of Public Health
- Western Pacific Surveillance and Response
- Public Health Panorama
- Weekly Epidemiological Record
- WHO Drug Information
Vaccination has been lauded as one of the greatest public health achievements. Smallpox, a human disease, and rinderpest, which affects livestock, were eliminated through vaccination. Currently, several vaccines are given to children and adolescents to prevent a number of childhood diseases, including pneumonia, diarrhoea and measles. There has been a steady rise in immunization coverage over the years and vaccines have become available to many communities and populations, especially deprived communities in the countries of the WHO African Region. There has also been significant progress in the introduction of several new vaccines, including pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), rotavirus and conjugate meningitis vaccines in the Region. These successes have been made possible with the commendable leadership and unwavering commitment of governments and people in the Region and of partners. However, several challenges remain to be addressed. The articles carefully chart the successes and challenges of immunization in the African Region. This special edition is a call to all stakeholders – governments and people of the African Region as well as partners – to increase efforts at making immunization a way of life across the Region. Governments should continue to make vaccination a top priority and commit adequate resources and communities should appreciate the value of immunization, and demand and protect immunization services as a basic right.
From the public health point of view, the objective of disaster preparedness and response, the major theme of this issue of the Monitor, is to reduce the health consequences of public health emergencies, natural disasters and conflict and minimize their social and economic impact.
Health is now recognized as a key aspect of human and economic development, and health financing as a major function of a health system, whose objectives are to make funding available and ensure that all have access to effective health services. The aim of developing health financing systems which support the promotion of universal health coverage in Africa is explored via the case studies, analyses and lessons learned presented.