Universal health coverage requires quality healthcare access for stigmatized populations
Fear of stigma and discrimination alone often prevents sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM), transgendered persons, or people who inject drugs from looking to access health services.12 Dec 2014
In order to celebrate progress and hold leaders accountable, the global community has recognized December 12th as Universal Health Coverage Day. According to the World Health Organization, the goal of universal health coverage is, “to ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them.” Universal health coverage (UHC) requires long-term planning, development, political commitment. It also requires the recognition that every country has diverse citizenry with unique needs – particularly when addressing sexual and reproductive health. Universal health coverage requires and understanding that “one size does not fit all.”
Healthcare workers, through prejudice and/or lack of knowledge often deny services to patients. Fear of stigma and discrimination alone often prevents sex workers, men who have sex with men (MSM), transgendered persons, or people who inject drugs from looking to access health services. These conditions, unless addressed, will prevent countries from ever being able to truly achieve universal health coverage. As the global community works to achieve a major global goal with universal health care – an “AIDS-Free Generation” – key populations at risk of HIV are too-often being denied access to basic services due to lack of investment, violence, criminalization and social marginalization. Promising approaches to overcome this are being tested in countries by engaging civil society organizations to complement the limited capacity of overburdened healthcare workers to reach out to the poor and marginalized and bring them into the health system.