Last March, Dance4Life attended the Africa Health Agenda Conference in Kigali, Rwanda. The main agenda point was the conversation on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in Africa. Young people started a movement here: #Youth4UHC.
Out of the corridors
Since its endorsement as a global resolution in December 2012, the conversation on UHC has always seemed like a high level discussion, to be held in the corridors of the UN or similar spaces. This time, host organisation AMREF Health Africa addressed all stakeholders in health, including young people, to discuss on how to make UHC a reality for their countries and their different populations.
Basics of Universal Health Care
In line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), governments globally are working to ensure UHC which should be realized by 2030. The tenets of UHC are clear:
/ Ensuring equity in the access to health services. Everyone who needs services should get them, not only those who can pay for them,
/ Quality of health services should be good enough to improve the health of those receiving them,
/ People should be protected against financial risk, ensuring that the cost of services do not put people at risk of financial harm.
The backdrop of these foundations is the recognition that at least half of the world’s population do not have access to essential health services. In addition, approximately 12% of the world’s population spend at least 10% of their household budget on healthcare. This pushes a significant population – 100 million – to extreme poverty because they have to choose between health and other essential services such as education, or housing.
Start of a youth movement
As far as all conversations in conferences go, there was bound to be familiar rhetoric. However, the youth preconference had a different twist, with an outcome from the beginning. The # “Youth4UHC” was not just another event hashtag, it was the advent of a movement. It started with a #Youth4UHC Caravan from Nairobi to Kigali, with young people collecting views and recommendations for the conference. More than 2000 comments and requests will be part of the recommendation to the UN High Level meeting in September 2019. Furthermore, a communique and position paper were drafted, also to feature prominently in the UN High Level meeting.
After the dust settled at the end of the conference, young people were feeling determined to have a network to champion for Universal Health Care in Africa. We can only wait for the full unveiling and activation of this movement…
Homework for Dance4Life
“How can the young people that you have empowered through the Journey4Life contribute to such conversations?” This was perhaps one of the most important questions asked by a partner on the sidelines of the conference to the Dance4Life team.
Our answer: Empowered young people on the trajectory to living their best lives and who will take responsibility for their future, is what we envision through working with our partners. We are keeping close to the fireplace on the conversation on UHC, and we are exploring ways to ensure that young people can be in advocacy for UHC as an added value to the Journey4Life!