In addition to supporting the global fight against communicable diseases, the Japanese government has identified the promotion of universal health coverage (UHC) as a key priority of its global health diplomacy policy. While these two priorities may appear at first glance to be in competition, a closer look at Global Fund–supported programs shows that it is indeed possible to contribute to UHC through funding targeted at specific diseases. In fact, it is already happening through the Global Fund’s partnerships with some of the countries that have been hardest hit by AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Importantly, this has been done without diluting the impact that the Global Fund’s support has on the three diseases, allowing it to create a win-win situation in which it can fight communicable diseases while also helping to ensure that basic health services are available to everyone without the threat of financial devastation.
Friends of the Global Fund, Japan (FGFJ) has conducted research on several examples of positive contributions that Global Fund support has made to UHC in Ethiopia, Myanmar, and Rwanda and developed the following case studies and policy briefs based on the research.
What is UHC?
The World Health Organization defines UHC as a world in which “all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them.” Ensuring that everyone has affordable health insurance is one component of UHC, and Japan was able to achieve universal coverage of health insurance in 1961 when it was still a low-income country. Its long history of universal coverage is one of the factors credited with Japan’s long healthy life expectancy.
In addition to its work in support of the Global Fund, JCIE’s Global Health and Human Security Program focuses on various aspects of Japan’s support for global health. Below are several projects that deal directly with UHC:
The World Bank conducted a multi-country research project to develop case studies of 11 countries that are at various stages on the path to achieve UHC, and JCIE managed the working group that wrote the case study on Japan, which all of the other country case studies referred back to for lessons.
In 2011, Japan celebrated 50 years of universal access to health insurance. To celebrate the achievement, JCIE teamed up with British medical journal the Lancet to publish a special series on Japan’s health system.