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BMC Med. 2015 Apr 29;13:101. doi: 10.1186/s12916-015-0342-3.

Accelerating health equity: the key role of universal health coverage in the Sustainable Development Goals.

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International Health Policy Program, Ministry of Public Health, Tivanond Road, Nonthaburi, 11000, Thailand.
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicines, Keppel Street, London, WC1E7HT, UK.
World Bank, East Asia and Pacific Office, Rama 4, Bangkok, 10330, Thailand.


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to be committed to by Heads of State at the upcoming 2015 United Nations General Assembly, have set much higher and more ambitious health-related goals and targets than did the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The main challenge among MDG off-track countries is the failure to provide and sustain financial access to quality services by communities, especially the poor. Universal health coverage (UHC), one of the SDG health targets indispensable to achieving an improved level and distribution of health, requires a significant increase in government investment in strengthening primary healthcare - the close-to-client service which can result in equitable access. Given the trend of increased fiscal capacity in most developing countries, aiming at long-term progress toward UHC is feasible, if there is political commitment and if focused, effective policies are in place. Trends in high income countries, including an aging population which increases demand for health workers, continue to trigger international migration of health personnel from low and middle income countries. The inspirational SDGs must be matched with redoubled government efforts to strengthen health delivery systems, produce and retain more and relevant health workers, and progressively realize UHC.

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