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Universal Health Coverage (UHC)

Supporting the achievement of Universal Health Coverage with resources for cancer prevention and control

Universal Health Coverage (UHC) means that everyone, everywhere, should have access to full range of health services, when and wherever they need them, without risk of financial hardship. ESMO calls for countries to guarantee their entire population UHC benefit packages that include a core set of comprehensive, safe, affordable, effective, and high-quality services for prevention, diagnosis, treatment, palliative care, rehabilitative services for all NCDs, including cancer, that are well funded and delivered by an adequate number of well-trained and well-resourced health workforce. UHC is key to achieving sustainable and resilient healthcare systems, including access to cancer services, and avoiding delays and disruptions in healthcare services, especially during health emergencies / pandemics.

In 2019 the United Nations held its first High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage. The outcome of that meeting was a Political Declaration indicating political commitment by Heads of State to achieving UHC by 2030. The Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated challenges to health systems, and societies at large, resulting in a set back to the progress towards achieving UHC.  At the current pace, up to one-third of the world’s population will remain underserved by 2030, and trends in financial protection of out-of-pocket costs for patients are worsening. Therefore, the 2023 Political Declaration on UHC, due to be adopted 21 September at the second UN High-Level Meeting on UHC in New York, is intended to build on the 2019 declaration and it aims to accelerate and intensify priority actions towards achieving Universal Health Coverage by 2030.

ESMO has raised awareness with the World Health Organization and the UN of examples of ESMO’s cancer resources that can help support countries in their efforts to deliver the three strands of Universal Health Coverage:

  1. The ‘ESMO Global Curriculum in Medical Oncology’ can support training the necessary workforce to ‘increase population coverage’;
  2. The evidence-based ‘ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines’ and ‘Pan-Asian Adapted Guidelines’ can support decisions to cost-effectively ‘expand essential health services’;
  3. The ‘ESMO-Magnitude of Clinical Benefit Scale’ can support countries to prioritize the use of cancer medicines to both improve health outcomes and ‘reduce the financial burden of health services’.

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