Universal Health Coverage in Asia Pacific: Access to Services and Medicines for All - Malaria Elimination Depends on It!
Malaria in Asia Pacific and globally is a disease of poverty and an engine of inequality: it disproportionately affects isolated and impoverished populations who live and work in rural and border areas and are hard to reach through national public health systems. The disease thrives where healthcare systems are weak and where the poor and most vulnerable lack affordable access to malaria prevention, diagnosis, and treatment services.
Globally, the objective to strengthen health systems and reach the unreached is embodied in the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Universal Health Coverage (UHC) target 3.8, defined as achieving “financial risk protection, access to quality essential health services, and access to safe, effective and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all”. These three principles align closely with the malaria elimination priorities articulated in the WHO Global Malaria Programme’s Global Technical Strategy for Malaria 2016-2030.
While many countries in Asia Pacific have made efforts to expand UHC, substantial gaps remain substantial across the region. The low to middle income countries LMICs in the region continue to struggle with a high proportion of out-of-pocket spending on health (53% percent of total health expenditure), and limited health care infrastructure and human resources (OECD 2020). Policies to advance UHC have the potential to accelerate malaria elimination while existing programs to control and eliminate malaria can act as entry points to strengthen primary health care systems. Making progress in one will advance progress on the other.
Our latest thematic brief in partnership with University of California San Francisco - Malaria Elimination Initiative (UCSF-MEI) and Malaria Consortium highlights the links between UHC and malaria elimination in Asia Pacific, spotlights ongoing efforts in the region, and outlines ways to integrate efforts on both fronts to achieve their common goals.