The sustainable development goals were the focus at the European Development Days on 15-16 June 2016  Erik Luntang

Universal health coverage in action at European Development Days

11 July 2016

This article was originally published on the EURO website, and can be accessed here

During European Development Days (EDD) on 15–16 June 2016 in Brussels, Belgium, WHO organized a session in partnership with the European Commission and Luxembourg’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. The session, entitled ‘Strengthening good governance and aid effectiveness to achieve universal health coverage’ (UHC), provided insights on the implementation of the EU–Luxembourg–WHO UHC Partnership.

The UHC Partnership currently provides targeted support for health policy dialogues, health financing and effective development cooperation to 28 countries, spanning anglophone and francophone Africa, South-East Asia, Central Asia, and the eastern half of the European Region.

The session was an opportunity to increase understanding of the importance of support for health governance and policy dialogue processes. Representatives of the ministries of health of Senegal and the Democratic Republic of the Congo reported on key achievements of the UHC Partnership in their respective countries.

Reaching communities in Senegal and the Democratic Republic of the Congo

“The UHC Partnership has given us the necessary impetus to focus on the communities in need, in their own environment, by putting in place much-needed Regional Health Sector Reviews”, said Dr Farba Lamine Sall, Director of the Minister of Health’s Office, Senegal.

Dr Sall explained how the UHC Partnership has allowed for better coordination among national, regional and local health administrations. Regional Health Sector Reviews (RHSR), involving the health community, civil society and implementers on the ground, were mentioned as a key instrument for allowing greater and more meaningful participation from different players in health care delivery.

As a result, RHSR have now been institutionalized in Senegalese health planning. This has led to better quality operational plans at the regional level, more joint planning between regional authorities and development partners, and more targeted plan implementation.




“We hope to have proximity coaching services in place in all 26 provinces within the next 2 years. The feedback has been so positive that those provinces not currently coached are demanding it as well”, said Dr Ahadi Simbi, Advisor, Department of Planning, Ministry of Health, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo the UHC Partnership has helped to redirect focus at the regional level. While the health system is decentralized, geographical and demographical dimensions pose challenges to ensuring health coverage across the territory and for the entire population. In this setting, provincial authorities take on a critical role.

The UHC Partnership has supported the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s health sector decentralization by providing targeted coaching to provincial health authorities. This has been extremely successful, with further support pledged from other donors and plans underway to expand into provinces not currently covered.


WHO participated in a stand showcasing the achievements of the UHC Partnership and the UHC target within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Different activities of the #HealthForAll campaign were organized to stress that health is an essential component of the SDGs, that health affects other goals, and that health is a reliable measure of how well sustainable development is progressing in general.

About European Development Days

This year, the 10th annual EDD focused on the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 SDGs adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at the UN General Assembly. The ambition of the health goal, SDG 3, is to ensure healthy lives and to promote well-being for all at all ages; it profiles health as a desirable outcome in its own right. SDG 3 includes a key target to achieve UHC. This target incorporates the principle of equity that unites all SDGs under the theme “leave no one behind”.

The EDD forum brought together more than 5000 participants representing 1200 organizations from the development community in over 120 main sessions and side events.