World Health Day 2019 (7 April): Universal Health Coverage

World Health Day is celebrated each year on 7th April to commemorate the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO), and has been celebrated each year since 1950.

As in 2018, the theme for World Health Day 2019 is Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

This may be since World Health Day 2019 falls midway between the Global Conference on Primary Health Care held in Astana, Kazakhstan in October 2018 and the High-level Meeting on universal health coverage to be held at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2019.

Key Messages:

Health is a human right; it’s time for health for all.

We know universal health coverage is possible, let’s make it happen!

Universal health coverage means that all people have access to the quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship.


At least half of the people in the world do not receive the health services they need.

About 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty each year because of out-of-pocket spending on health.


But who are these people and how can we help them? To get a better picture of who is missing out, we need data that is broken down by gender, age, income, location, education and other factors that affect access to health services.

Health is a human right; everyone should have the information and services they need to take care of their own health and the health of their families.


Quality, accessible primary health care is the foundation for universal health coverage.


Unsafe and low-quality health care ruins lives and costs the world trillions of dollars every year, we must do more to improve the quality and safety of health services globally.


Primary health care should be the first level of contact with the health system, where individuals, families and communities receive most of their health care—from promotion and prevention to treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care—as close as possible to where they live and work.


At its heart, primary health care is about caring for people and helping them improve their health or maintain their well-being, rather than just treating a single disease or condition.


Primary health care covers the majority of your health needs throughout your life including services such as screening for health problems, vaccines, information on how to prevent disease, family planning, treatment for long- and short-term conditions, coordination with other levels of care, and rehabilitation.

Primary health care is a cost-effective and equitable way of delivering health services and helping countries make progress towards universal health coverage.


A health system with strong primary health care delivers better health outcomes, is cost-efficient and improves quality of care.


Health workers have a crucial role to play educating patients on how to take care of their health, coordinating care and advocating for their patients’ needs to health facility managers and policy-makers.


Primary health-care workers have a continuing and trusted relationship with their patients and know their health history; knowing the full picture helps improve their care and saves money.

Primary health-care workers know the traditions, cultures and practices of their communities, making them indispensable during an outbreak or emergency.

To make health for all a reality, we need:

  • individuals and communities who have access to high quality health services so that they take care of their own health and the health of their families;
  • skilled health workers providing quality, people-centred care; and
  • policy-makers committed to investing in primary health care.


Calls to Action:

General public

  • Health care is your right and the right of your family, let’s tell our leaders all people deserve quality health care.
  • Talk to your local health worker about getting the information and support you need to take care of your own health and the health of your family.
  • Quality health care is good for our health, good for economies and good for society. Let’s call on world leaders to make health for all a reality!


Health workers

  • You are the voice for your patients. Unite with your peers and let local leaders know that you support health for all.
  • Health workers have the power to change people’s lives with quality health advice and care. Let’s make sure everyone can access the skills and expertise of health workers like you.
  • Empower your patients to take care of their own health. You play a vital role in learning about their needs and teaching them what they can do to get and stay healthy.

Policy makers

  • Health is a political choice; make sure it is considered in all government policies.
  • More investment in primary health care is needed to make universal health coverage a reality; you can make it happen.
  • This year, commit to gathering better health data so we can target resources and make changes where they are needed most.

Useful Links:

Link to the World Health Day 2019 web site:

Link to recent WHO news release about out-of-pocket health expenditure:

Link to article on World Health Day 2018:



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