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WHO portal to track progress of universal health coverage

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The World Health Organization has launched a data portal on December 12, 2016 (Universal Health Coverage Day), which will help assess the progress towards universal health coverage across the globe. The portal will show where countries need to improve access to services and where they need to improve information.

A WHO press release states that the portal features latest data on access to health services globally and in each of WHO’s 194 member states, along with information about equity of access. Next year, WHO will add data on the impact that paying for health services has on household finances.

Dr Margaret Chan, Director-General of WHO, has said that any country seeking to achieve UHC must be able to measure it. She stressed that data on its own won’t prevent disease or save lives, but it shows where governments need to act to strengthen their health systems and protect people from the potentially devastating effects of health care costs.

UHC means that all people and communities can access the health services they need without facing financial hardship. So, countries aiming to provide UHC need to build health systems that deliver the quality services and products people need, when and where they need them, through an adequately resourced and well-trained health workforce.

The ability to provide strong primary health care services at community level is essential to make progress towards universal health coverage.

According to the portal, less than half the children with suspected pneumonia in low income countries are taken to an appropriate health provider. Of the estimated 10.4 million new cases of tuberculosis in 2015, 6.1 million were detected and officially notified in 2015, leaving a gap of 4.3 million.

High blood pressure affects 1.13 billion people. Over half of the world's adults with high blood pressure in 2015 lived in Asia. Around 24% of men and 21% of women had uncontrolled blood pressure in 2015.

About 44% of WHO’s member states report having less than one physician per 1000 population. The African Region suffers almost 25% of the global burden of disease but has only 3% of the world’s health workers.

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