The South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) and the South African Red Cross Society (SARCS) were among those who attended the South African Civil Society Consultation on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) July 4-5, 2019. The meeting focused on four asks related to UHC: leave no one behind, focus on health workers, invest in health systems, and engage civil society to deliver UHC.

Dr. Rajesh Narwal, Health Systems Advisor in WHO’s South Africa Office, said UHC could be the potential response to the triple challenges South Africa faces: Inequality, poverty, and unemployment. He supported that statement by saying that UHC is the biggest social equalizer- where rich and poor, men and women all have equal access to health services. Healthier households and communities are more productive and UHC prevents people from falling into poverty due to out-of-pocket health expenditures, he said. And he noted that health care is one of the biggest employers, especially for women (60% of health workforce).

South Africa should take the following into account as it operationalizes UHC:

  • Create policies that are implementable
  • Go to the communities and have consultations on the ground
  • A lay person on the ground should know what UHC is all about
  • More resources for NPOs and NGOs to be able to implement
  • Communication about UHC in all media platforms
  • Equal funds for local response and UHC implementation (funding should reach all vulnerable areas)
  • Political will in all spheres primarily at the local level
  • UHC road map and implementation
  • Proper health budgeting framework

The meeting participants agreed on the following way forward:

  • Audit the health facilities (audit capacity at facility and education at a local level)
  • Launch roadmap of UHC and existing structure that are inclusive
  • Accountability and transparency
  • Sustain workforce skills and compensate employable
  • Development of standard reporting tool
  • Document CSO service delivery contributions
  • Constituency engagement, feedback and finance consultation
  • Leave no one behind, including people with disabilities, LGBT etc.

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