Dr. Ryoma Kayano, WHO Centre for Health Development, Kobe
Dr. Ryoma Kayano joined WHO in 2015, having previously worked at Nagasaki University School of Medicine as a lecturer in charge of promotion of medical research activities and international collaborations. He currently works for WHO Centre for Health Development, a policy research center of WHO, as a focal point of health emergencies, in charge of liaison for local/national government on the issue including communicable disease outbreak and natural disaster risk management. He also works as a coordinator for research activities regarding mental health, dementia, non-communicable disease, disaster risk management for health, etc., as his background in medicine and psychiatry. After graduating from medical school, he began his career as a general practitioner, working with vulnerable populations such as older populations and people with disabilities. In 2011, he worked for disaster survivors of Great East Japan Earthquake as a member of Tokyo Metropolitan Disaster Relief Team.
Universal Health Coverage (UHC) means that all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. To date at least half of the world’s populations still do not have full coverage of essential health services. About 100 million people are still being pushed into “extreme poverty (living on $1.90 or less a day)” because they have to pay for health care. Over 800 million people (almost 12 percent of the world’s population) spent at least 10 percent of their household budgets to pay for health care. All UN Member States have agreed to try to achieve UHC by 2030, as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Moving towards UHC requires strengthening health systems in all countries, and robust financing structures are required. It is a very big challenge both for low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) that faces the burden of managing both communicable diseases and increasing non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and high-income countries that faces expanding healthcare and long term care cost with rapidly growing older population. Improving health service coverage and health outcomes through better availability, accessibility, and capacity of health workers to deliver quality healthcare, and investments for cost-effective approach such as primary health care workforce capacity building in LMICs is the most needed for improving equity in access to essential health care services.
UHC is firmly based on the 1948 WHO Constitution, which declares health a fundamental human right and commits to ensuring the highest attainable level of health for all. WHO is supporting countries to develop their health systems to move towards and sustain UHC, and to monitor progress. But WHO is not alone: WHO works with many different partners in different situations and for different purposes to advance UHC around the world.