‘Health Is A Human Right’: 4 Experts Share How We Can Make #HealthForAll A Reality

Posted by Anwesha Patel in #HealthForAll, Health and Life
July 19, 2018
UHC logoEditor’s Note: This post is a part of #HealthForAll, a campaign by WHO and Youth Ki Awaaz to advocate access to healthcare for everyone, everywhere. If you have ideas on how India ensure access to quality and affordable healthcare for all by 2030, share your opinion.

In 2015, countries around the world, including India, adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the aim to achieve them by 2030.

Goal 3 of these 17 #GlobalGoals is to ensure good health and well-being of people of all ages across the globe, and one of the targets of this health goal is to “achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.”

On July 13, 2018, Youth Ki Awaaz, along with WHO India, hosted a Twitter chat on the theme of Universal Health Coverage to understand how #HealthForAll can be turned into a reality for millions of Indians.

The four experts participating in the Twitter chat were: Dr. Chandrakant Lahariya (@DrLahariya), National Professional Officer – UHC, at WHO India; Alok Kumar (@IasAlok), Adviser (Health and Nutrition) at NITIAayog; Sanchita Sharma (@sanchx), Health and Science Editor at Hindustan Times; and Priyanka Dutt (@priydee), Country Director, BBC Media Action India.

The Twitter chat invited participation from several enthusiastic Twitterati. Organisations including Population Foundation Of India and Oxfam India lent their perspectives to the chat, adding nuance and value to the conversation.

In case you missed the Twitter chat, here are some highlights:

What is the Universal Health Coverage?

@sanchx: Ensuring equitable access for all Indians to affordable, accountable, appropriate and quality health services. Services must be provided to all, regardless of income, social status, gender, caste or religion.

@DrLahariya: UHC means that “all individuals & communities receive health services they need without suffering financial hardship. (https://t.co/0Wwlu7r9sK) . UHC includes the full spectrum of essential, quality health services, from health promotion to prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care.

YKA: What do you think should be the ideal contribution of a country’s GDP towards public health to ensure that #HealthForAll can be a reality?

How digital technology can play a key role in contributing to #UniversalHealthCoverage in a country with a 1.3 billion population

@priydee: For large & diverse populations, #UniversalHealthCoverage demands standardisation, localisation, and personalisation, which need to be designed for and delivered at scale. Digital technologies help us achieve all those in the most cost-effective manner.

Population Foundation Of India chipped in with: There are emerging apps which have a number of specialists on board- acting like a helpline of sorts. Patients can call up and outline their issue which would then redirect them to concerned consultants.

Twitter user @PhysicianRural had some more app suggestions:

How diverse communities can be engaged for stronger health outcomes in India

@priydee: Partnering with community organisations in the planning & design of #UniversalHealthCare solutions is critical to achieving people-centred, integrated health services that deliver quality, access, equity & accountability. Real world communities increasingly overlap with digital communities, providing inexpensive, efficient, standardized and yet personalized ways of engaging people in achieving. Digital tools are also very effective in empowering and equipping communities with knowledge of their rights and entitlements so that they can collectively demand access to quality, cost-effective and equitable health services.

@OxfamIndia chipped in with a superb input:

YKA: What are the 3 areas in healthcare where technology can play an important role to help us move towards #HealthForAll?

primary care (basic consultations, doctors’ appointment, finding the right specialists, etc.), health insurance, access to right medical information #HealthForAll

— Population Foundation of India (@PFI3) July 13, 2018

YKA: How do you see government initiatives like constructing toilets and the #SwachhBharat Tax addressing public health concerns in India?


  • Poor #sanitation causes repeated bouts of #diarrhoea and infectious diseases that lead to #malnutrition, which remains a major problem in India despite economic progress.
  • #Diarrhoea is the third-biggest cause of #prematuredeath across ages in India in 2016, after #heartdisease and lung diseases, according to data from the Global Burden of Disease.
  • Poor #sanitation is the leading cause of #diarrhoea, #malnutrition, cholera, hepatitis A and E, worm infestations, #typhoid and enteric fevers.
  • Unsafe drinking water, excreta-contaminated food, open defecation, unusable toilets, untreated sewerage and not handwashing cause #infectiousdiseases like #diarrhoea.

Twitter user @sumiraghav had an extremely valid and crucial point to make:

@DrLahariya: India has drafted national policy on rare diseases. The provision under this policy and then in spirit implementation should hopefully change the availability of services for a rare and congenital disease. It would accelerate #UHC.

Lessons India can adopt from other countries in the area of using technology to create awareness on preventive healthcare

@priydee: Lots to learn. Linking HRIS to HMIS. Manage chronic conditions by linking health tech with comms for patient self-management; healthcare provider alerts to changes in patients’ condition & treatment adherence, especially for chronic conditions. Also consider AI for on-demand interaction with doctor, digital supply chains, process automation to free up services providers to provide care rather than documenting it.

@PFI3: Reliable research databases like PubMed provide accurate and reliable medical information, just a click away. In developed countries, especially in the USA, the health insurance companies, despite their shortcomings, play a big role in ensuring that patients have access to the right information starting from diagnosis to treatment.

YKA: How do you rate India’s infrastructure progress when it comes to facilitating the delivery of quality healthcare services?

@IasAlok: India’s health outcomes have moved in the right direction; MMR has declined by over 3/4th over 1990 levels to 130, U5MR has declined nearly by 2/3rd to 43 over the same period. Driven largely with the strengthening of Public health infra under NHM, particularly at SCs, PHC, CHC & DHs. Institutional deliveries have doubled over the last decade; increased immunization and antenatal checkups; 24×7 First Referral Units, SNCUs & a focus on Quality of Care.

YKA: What are the key components of Ayushman Bharat Programme?

@IasAlok: #AyushmanBharat has twin missions: Health & Wellness Centres & the health insurance component: 1st to operationalize 1.5 lac H&WCs offering a comprehensive preventive & primary care; with access to free drugs & diagnostics and referral to higher levels of care.

Twitter user @dpkryan had a valid question to ask:

@OxfamIndia replied:

YKA: Do you feel that the proposed NHPM can widen its scope beyond hospitalisation to include the cost of buying important life-saving drugs from pharmacies for poor patients?

YKA: How is @NITIAayog contributing to ensure that Goal 3 of the #SDGs become a reality for millions of Indians?

YKA: How has WHO been working with the government to improve health services delivery and advance #UHC in India?


YKA: How will the Health & Wellness Centres under the ABP initiative help India in improving the quality of primary healthcare?

@DrLahariya: Well, HWCs design aims to strengthen PHC by (a) reducing time to access health facilities, (b) expanding services, (c) augmenting HR, (d) making medicine n diagnostics available &, (e) functional referral linkage.

The success of HWC initiative lies in getting both design n implementation right, from the very beginning. Rapid scale-up, capital investment, attention on poor performing states, urban PHC, program monitoring would help.

YKA: In October, global leaders are meeting at the primary healthcare conference to address key health challenges. Why is primary healthcare important for achieving #HealthForAll?

@DrLahariya: PHC can address up to 80-90% of #health needs of any population. That makes it efficient and affordable approach to deliver health services. PHC is community oriented, aims to provide a broad range of services closer to where people are.

Twitter user @shreetishakya had an important question:

@DrLahariya replied:

What role can mainstream media play to advance #UHC

@sanchx: Media must identify gaps in #publichealth delivery for quick course correction and celebrate successes that can be scaled up to benefit more people. Correct and unbiased reporting can help identify gaps in delivery and best practices to improve #publichealth services and reach the under-served. Mass media and communication, including social media, should be used to share correct information about the services available and people’s rights as citizens.

Twitter user @dr_pritamroy asked @DrLahariya: What will be your message to State Health Programme Officers to make UHC reality?

Youth Ki Awaaz and WHO have joined hands to advocate for the right for everyone to have access to basic health care. Be a part of this movement online using hashtag #HealthforAll and follow the conversation here.

Organised as a part of #HealthForAll, a campaign by WHO India and Youth Ki Awaaz to advocate access to healthcare for everyone, everywhere, the Twitter chat reached close to 3 million people on Twitter.

How do you think we can make quality healthcare affordable and accessible for all? Tweet your responses @YouthKiAwaaz with #HealthForAll!

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