Zero discrimination is more than a slogan. It is essential for achieving universal health coverage.

According to WHO and the World Bank, half the world still lacks access to essential health services. Nondiscriminatory health services can help people feel safe and comfortable in seeking health care. Unfortunately, in far too many parts of the world and for far too many people, discrimination is a major barrier to accessing health services.

Imagine if the world’s efforts to achieve UHC were driven by the power of human rights. What would this look like? Here are three key elements.

  1. Political leadership: Health systems must meet the needs of the people they serve and be designed to explicitly address equity. This requires a rights-based approach that focuses on improving the affordability, accessibility, availability, and quality of health services, including investments in sensitizing health workers to provide nondiscriminatory health services.
  2. Community engagement: Marginalized and vulnerable groups must be involved in the development, implementation, and monitoring of nondiscriminatory health services; they can assist in monitoring stigma and discrimination in healthcare settings and encourage people to access services and improve service delivery.
  3. Enabling legal and policy frameworks: The removal of punitive laws, policies, and practices, and the promotion of protective legal and policy environments also play a critical role in making people feel they can safely access health services.

Read the full article on discrimination and universal health coverage by Mandeep Dhaliwal at Devex International Development