World Health Day

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) marked World Health Day, and the agency’s 70th anniversary, with a strong call for universal health coverage, to ensure that all people can get quality health services, where and when they need them, without suffering financial hardship.


According to WHO, at least half the world’s population do not have coverage for full essential health services, with about 100 million people living on $1.90 or less a day because they have to pay for health care.

“Universal health coverage is a political choice. It takes vision, courage and long-term thinking,” said Mr. Tedros, adding “But the payoff is a safer, fairer and healthier world for everyone.”

Secretary-General António Guterres recalled that WHO was founded on the principle that “the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being.”

“Since then, average global life expectancy has expanded by 23 years,” he continued, noting the eradication of smallpox and the dissipation of polio.

Mr. Guterres stressed that although millions more children live to celebrate their fifth birthday, people around the world still lacked vital health services.

Universal coverage

As part of the landmark 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), all UN Member States agreed to try to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.

When people have to pay most health service costs themselves, often the poor cannot obtain what they need and even the rich may fall victim to financial hardship from long-term illness.

Universal health coverage requires strengthening health systems in all countries – with robust financing structures being key. It emphasizes not only what services are covered, but also how they are funded, managed, and delivered.

WHO maintains that pooling resources from compulsory funding sources, such as mandatory insurance contributions, can improve health service coverage by spreading the financial risks of illness across a population.

Health services, including traditional and complementary medicine services, organized around the comprehensive needs and expectations of people and communities will help empower them to take a more active role in their health and health system.