Invest in women, girls' health to explore UHC benefits

11Mar 2019
Kenneth Simbaya
 Kigali
The Guardian
Invest in women, girls' health to explore UHC benefits

AFRICAN governments have been urged to invest heavily in women and girls’ health if they are to reap the full potential of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), and achieve the healthy societies in their respective countries.

Women Deliver President and Chief Executive Officer, Katja Iversen.

Women Deliver President and Chief Executive Officer, Katja Iversen made the call last week when speaking on the sidelines of the three-day second Africa Health Agenda International Conference held in Kigali, Rwanda.

Katja said that UHC will not be universal unless it looks at every body’s health needs, and specifically women and girls, as well as understanding of social determinants of women and girls’ health.

“Despite the fact there is unprecedented demand for universal health coverage around the world, we need to push harder for a stronger gender lens if UHC is real going to be universal and leave no one behind,” she told ‘The Guardian’.

She added: “As of now there is no strong reference on girls and women as users the health systems in UHC documents.”

On why need for strong focus on women and girls, Katja said: “Women’s health is not simply about biological differences or reproductive health. Social or “gender” differences interact with sex and have a profound and far-reaching effect on women’s health.”

Katja’s remarks echo ample evidence that confirm that, health, educated and economically sound mothers raise health families, the evidence points that investing in women and girls has ripple effects of positive outcomes to societies.    

Katja who was awarded a trophy at Africa Health Agenda International Conference 2019 for her leadership in global health, said that women who have access to maternal health services are more likely to use other reproductive services and to seek healthcare for her children. Underscoring the need for having Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH), Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), in UHC

“For many years young girls and women have repeatedly lamented that health planners and providers,  that the current health system does not respond well to their needs. They want the system to consider their specific needs and develop appropriate responses, with young girls and women at the center of services,” said Halima Lila,  Executive Director of Hope Center for Children, Girls and Women in Tanzania.

UHC is part of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)  3,which calls for Ensuring healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages, SDG 3 target 3.8 commits to Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

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