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The World Health Organization (WHO) has called on health workers across the globe to support its push for universal health coverage (UHC) on World Health Day 2019 on 7 April.

This includes advocating for access to healthcare for all, empowering patients to take care of their own health and delivering quality primary healthcare.

WHO’s most important goal, UHC focuses on ensuring all people and communities worldwide have access to quality health services where and when they need them without having to choose between healthcare and other daily expenses such as food, clothing and shelter.

This year’s theme, Health for all – everyone, everywhere, aims to raise awareness and build understanding about UHC and draw attention to equity and solidarity and the need to address gaps in health services to ensure nobody is left behind.

To make health for all a reality, WHO says governments and policymakers must inject more funding into primary healthcare and allow health workers to care and advocate for patients and educate them on health.

As part of World Health Day, WHO is also encouraging the general public to talk to their local health worker and source information on taking care of their own health.

Statistics show at least half the world’s population do not receive the health services they need and that about 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty yearly because of out-of-pocket spending on health.

WHO believes quality, accessible primary healthcare is the foundation of achieving UHC because it involves a ‘whole-of-society’ approach to health and wellbeing centred on the needs of individuals, families and communities.

It says primary healthcare involves everything from promotion and prevention to treatment, rehabilitation and palliative care.

It covers the majority of health needs throughout one’s life, including services such as screening for health problems and treatment for long and short-term conditions, and improves broader health and wellbeing rather than just treating a single disease or condition, WHO adds.

ANMF Federal Secretary Annie Butler said universal health coverage in Australia was equally as important as in other countries.

“All Australians should be able to access affordable, quality healthcare when and where they need it,” Ms Butler said.

“While Medicare is the pillar of our universal healthcare system, many Australians such as people living rural and remote or those who experience mental health issues, do not always have appropriate access to healthcare services.

“Nurses, midwives and carers must be supported and empowered to work to their full scope of practice to ensure universal health coverage is achieved and all people get access to the quality health services they need and deserve.”

Find out more about World Health Day 2019