World Health Day 2018: Maternal Health Care and Universal Health Coverage

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By: Kayla McGowan, Project Coordinator, Women and Health Initiative, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

World Health DayThis Saturday, 7 April is World Health Day, and this year’s theme is universal health coverage (UHC). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), UHC means meeting everyone’s right to access high quality essential health services where and when they need them—without financial difficulty. Currently, however, at least half of the world’s population is unable to realize this right.

Accessible maternal health care is a critical component of UHC that affects women, their families, communities and nations at large. WHO uses 16 essential health services across four categories to measure the level and equity of UHC in countries. Indicators for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health include family planning, antenatal and delivery care, full child immunization and health-seeking behavior for pneumonia. Beyond access, the quality of maternal health care matters, and every woman, everywhere has the right to high quality maternal health care. But the question remains—how can we ensure optimal maternal health care for all?

We have rounded up the following resources exploring maternal health care and UHC:


Countdown to 2030: Tracking progress towards universal coverage for reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health
The Lancet | January 2018

Determining the effective coverage of maternal and child health services in Kenya, using demographic and health survey data sets: Tracking progress towards universal health coverage
Tropical Medicine & International Health | January 2017

The scale, scope, coverage and capability of childbirth care
The Lancet Maternal Health Series | September 2016

Realizing universal health coverage for maternal health services in the Republic of Guinea: The use of workforce projections to design health labor market interventions
Risk Management and Healthcare Policy | November 2014

Investing in health systems for universal health coverage in Africa
BMC International Health and Human Rights | October 2014

Blog Posts

Without Health for All, We Will Not End Poverty by 2030
World Bank | December 2017

Universal (Maternal) Health Coverage: A Dream Within Reach
ISGlobal | December 2017

Women, Girls and Universal Health Coverage: Who Is Accountable?
Maternal Health Task Force | January 2015

Ten Arguments for Why Gender Should Be a Central Focus for Universal Health Coverage Advocates
Maternal Health Task Force | January 2015

For Maternal Health, What Role Will Universal Health Coverage Play in a Post-MDG World?
New Security Beat | April 2014

Ten Resources for Learning More About Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as a Driver for Women’s Health
Maternal Health Task Force | February 2014


Tracking Universal Health Coverage: 2017 Global Monitoring Report
World Bank | December 2017

Global Maternal Health Workforce Resources
Maternal Health Task Force

Continuity of Antenatal Care in Mexico: A Measurement Proposal in the Context of Universal Health Coverage
Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference Presentation | October 2015

Improving Maternal Health Through Universal Health Coverage
Advancing Dialogue on Maternal Health Series | February 2014

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