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How Global & Local Partnership Achieve Life-saving Aims of UHC Day

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 41 million people each year die of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), equivalent to 74% of all deaths globally. Each year, 17 million people die from an NCD before age 70; 86% of these premature deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries1. It’s a global crisis that must be addressed. Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day, held annually on 12 December, is a day on which advocates worldwide mobilise to bring awareness to the significance of accessible and affordable health care.

The global impact in terms of deaths as a result of NCDs is substantial and can be analysed further: cardiovascular diseases account for 17.9 million people annually, followed by cancers at 9.3 million people, chronic respiratory diseases at 4.1 million people, and diabetes at 2.0 million people as well as deaths caused by kidney diseases. These four groups of diseases account for over 80% of all premature deaths as a result of NCD.2

In addition, tobacco use, physical inactivity, the harmful use of alcohol, and unhealthy diet all increase the risk of dying from an NCD. Detection, screening and treatment of NCDs, as well as palliative care, are key in responding to them.3

Health Care That Leaves No One Behind

Strong primary health care systems ensure that all people can receive the right care, at the right time, where they are. Before 2015, there were no solid frameworks for evaluating health care coverage, but efforts have been made to change this. However, only 25% could be evaluated through well-established methods.4

The definition of UHC is that all people and communities receive the health services they need without enduring financial hardship. Strong primary health care can meet the majority of people’s health needs by promoting healthy behaviours and routine check-ups, preventing disease and injuries, and providing and coordinating any curative, rehabilitative and palliative care that people need.5

Health workers in primary health care settings are more likely to know the unique needs and circumstances of their communities, and can build long-term relationships with the people. This keeps community members healthy in times of calm, saves lives in times of crisis, and increases collective trust and participation in the health system.6

Achieving Universal Health Care Coverage

Policies that aim to achieve UHC are often not implemented effectively due to restricted budgets, complex management and limited accountability. What is needed is effective legislation, combined with adequate funding, and multi-stakeholder structures for implementation.7

Data shows that each country’s primary health care system should be tailored to maximise resources and impact. Improved analysis can determine where action is needed and alert leaders to set strategic priorities, use existing resources effectively, and accelerate progress towards health for all.7,8

IPASA and CANSA Work Together

With cancer being one of the major NCDs, it’s essential that it receives the attention it deserves. “We at IPASA are therefore proud of our association and work with the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) to create awareness of the prevalence of cancer in our society and that affordable treatment needs to be made available and affordable to all. CANSA’s participation in UHC Day is particularly important and we value its immeasurable service to cancer patients in South Africa,” says Dr Mothobi Godfrey Keele, IPASA Head of Government Affairs and Policy.

Sandhya A Singh, Acting Chief Director at the National Department of Health (NDOH), says, “The NDOH congratulates CANSA on its outstanding endeavors in cancer prevention and care to ‘leave no one behind’. Amidst many inequities in access to cancer care, especially by our poor and marginalised communities, it is a pleasure for the NDOH to support CANSA to ‘Build the world we want: A healthy future for all’.

“CANSA is commended for adopting a human rights approach towards creating awareness of cancer, training of community-level health workers, including traditional health practitioners, undertaking research, as well as providing emotional and other support to patients and families who are affected by cancer. The Department looks forward to our joint investment and acceleration towards enhancing cancer prevention and control in the country.”

How UHC Can Help the Community

Lwazi Mathiyha, a cancer patient who received care and support from CANSA, says UHC Day on 12 December means a lot to her. “Accessibility to affordable health care, especially in the rural communities where there is a lack of information, and accessibility to health care, is limited.

“It’s important for all of us to join hands and go into partnership to support campaigns that are connected and promote information and awareness of UHC Day and all its supporting partners, to ensure that people in the rural areas that are in dire need of health services can receive help.

“This campaign should not only be limited to UHC Day, but should be addressed throughout the year so that we can make health care free or at least affordable. I can relate to this – it was a struggle for me to deal with my illness until I came across the services of CANSA, which supported and guided me through the entire process. This kind of service is vital to ensuring that people lead healthier and longer lives through improved knowledge and accessible health care,” she concludes.



  1. Noncommunicable Diseases
  2. Noncommunicable Diseases
  3. Noncommunicable Diseases
  4. If Health Systems Could Talk – PHC Vital Signs Report
  5. Noncommunicable Diseases
  6. Noncommunicable Diseases
  7. Resources 2022
  8. If Health Systems Could Talk – PHC Vital Signs Report
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