Why universal health coverage? While it might seem obvious to someone in a wealthy country that everyone should be entitled to healthcare regardless of their ability to pay for it, unfortunately, it is still a revolutionary idea in many parts of the world. Save the Children has been working for years with the World Health Organisation and the World Bank to improve access to healthcare for people in poor countries. In 2015, the world signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals: a new global framework to address global inequalities of resources and health. Save the Children has had the opportunity to be heard in these influential negotiations promoting, amongst a number of key priorities, an end to all preventable child deaths, and universal health coverage. This year, we are working to encourage the G7 Summit in Japan to commit to support Universal Health Coverage.
It was imperative for us, and the children we campaign for, to voice these opinions and I believe these conversations are strengthened as a result of our partnership with GSK. While some people may question a partnership between a pharmaceutical company and a non-governmental organisation (NGO), we have already found that GSK is heard in places where we are not.
In January 2015, we attended Gavi,2 the Vaccine Alliance’s replenishment conference in Berlin. Save the Children pushed donors to prioritise getting basic vaccines to children fairly and GSK committed to let countries that graduate from Gavi support to get the same prices for ten years afterwards. Delivering vaccines into a port or airport is not, on its own, good enough. Countries need to employ the health workers, set the plans and strategies, monitor performance and quality, and plan for funding the vaccines when Gavi support stops. Again, GSK and Save the Children are advocating for sustainable solutions to improve this type of access to health.
Our work with GSK does not stop at changing policy and advocating on behalf of children to achieve universal health coverage. In a first for Save the Children, we have a joint R&D Board discussing new medicines that GSK is developing for child health and how to ensure that the poorest get access to them.
Bringing both organisations’ expertise and resources to the table makes sense.