What is Universal Health Coverage (UHC)?
Looking to get involved in this year’s UHC Day campaign? Join the youth competition!
The competition is designed to have three packages, each containing activities in which young people can participate to be eligible for the prize designated for that category. Everyone who completes the activities in the first action package will receive the prize, but for action packages 2 and 3, participants will enter a draw for the prize. The competition is open to both individuals and groups.
Please visit the UHC Day Youth Competition document for complete information about how the competition works. You will also find a series of guidelines to support you in taking the actions outlined in the action packages.
Please also read the submission guidelines before submitting your activities via this form. The deadline to submit your activities is 7 December, 2022.
Universal health coverage (UHC) means that everyone, everywhere can access inclusive, quality health services without financial hardship.
It is based on the principle that access to quality health care should never depend on where you live, how much money you have, or your race, gender or age.
Why is UHC important?
Building equitable and resilient health care systems is an investment in the future and a means of creating just and inclusive societies. Now is the time to create a world where universal health coverage reaches everyone, everywhere – regardless of financial circumstances.
- Health is a fundamental human right, and a prerequisite to exercising all other human rights. Universal health coverage based on primary health care is key to ending poverty, building peaceful and resilient societies, and advancing the of all of the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Lack of access to affordable, quality health care can push people, communities, and nations into or further into poverty. Evidence shows that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, 1.3 billion people were pushed into poverty because of out-of-pocket health costs, with more than 300 million of them living in extreme poverty.
- The Health for All movement is about ensuring a world where everyone has the right to health and well-being.
Universal health coverage intersects with many other critical topics. Learn why UHC is important for...
Climate change is humanity's most significant health threat, particularly for vulnerable populations already at risk of being left behind. It impacts factors that affect health – such as the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink, and access to food and shelter.
The planet’s health is inseparable from the health of its people. And building equitable, resilient health systems is essential to help communities respond to and recover from climate-related crises, such as extreme weather events and pandemics. Learn more.
UHC ensures that everyone, including youth, can make informed decisions about sexual relations, use of contraception, pregnancies and their overall reproductive health. It’s time to integrate sexual and reproductive health rights and services, including for family planning, information and education, as critical tenets of our health systems. Learn more.
Mental health is critical to a young person’s well-being and health development. Globally, mental health needs are high and responses are often inadequate. One in seven individuals between the ages of 10 and 19 experiences a mental disorder. To build healthy populations, mental health must be a part of efforts to improve physical health.
It is time to ensure young people have access to the necessary tools and resources to protect their mental health and to thrive. Learn more.
With more than 100 million forcibly displaced people around the world, now more than ever, we must develop effective and inclusive health systems that ensure access to services for everyone, including migrants, refugees, asylum-seekers and stateless people. UHC ensures that no one is left behind, and protects people in vulnerable situations, including women, children, and displaced communities. Learn more.
Stigma, bias, and systemic inequalities in healthcare settings combine to hinder LGBTQ+ people from receiving the support and care every patient deserves. Health is a human right, and access to it must be protected and guaranteed.
UHC based on primary health care helps us build a world where everyone can access life-supporting, sexual and gender-affirming care. It addresses health disparities faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals and supports responsive care to promote the health needs of people of all gender identities and sexual orientations. Learn more.
Resources for Youth
- Young people make up 42% of the global population (Source: WHO). Their voices are crucial to building strong, resilient and equitable health systems that respond to the needs of everyone, everywhere.
- Young people often face unique barriers to accessing health services. Out-of-pocket health costs and high unemployment rates limit access to timely and high-quality healthcare. To remove these barriers, we must ensure that young people’s voices and concerns are heard, and that young people are included in decision-making spaces.
Use the resources below to participate in this year’s campaign and call on leaders to take immediate action toward #HealthForAll.”
Let your creativity roam free and inspire others to stand up for a better world.
Creativity is an integral part of effective advocacy. Whether you want to dance, sing, inform or tell a story, recording a video gives you the creative freedom and the opportunity to get your message across. Use the notes below to guide you through the creative process. The best video will be featured on the UHC Twitter page.
- You have total creative freedom in how you structure your video. As long as your video centers on UHC, you are welcome to hop on the latest dance trends on TikTok, create a UHC explainer, or make an animated video. We want this video to be a reflection of your creative vision.
- We are looking for short-form videos. Aim for a video that is between 30 seconds to 2 minutes long.
- If you choose to post your video, make sure to use the campaign hashtags #HealthforAll and #UHCDay
Make sure your voice is heard by those who make daily decisions for our lives.
Policymakers and government officials make decisions every day. We can influence them and take an active role in shaping our country and communities. Working to influence the choice of these individuals is a crucial piece in a successful advocacy campaign. Below you will find information on how to write targeted letters to your decision makers around the need for UHC.
Step 1: Research Checklist
To make a solid appeal to your government official, you want to be as precise as you can about the change you wish to see and how it could impact your life. Take the following steps to familiarize yourself with your country's landscape of health systems.
- You should be familiar with some basic facts about your country's health systems. How are health systems funded? Who are the people with the least amount of access to health coverage? What options are available to those who don’t have the means to pay for health costs? Spend some time finding answers to these questions and compiling a
document with facts about healthcare access in your country.
- In addition to researching the state and accessibility of health systems, look to see if any legislation is actively moving in your legislature. Would this legislation positively or negatively affect the fight for universal health coverage?
- Think about who the best person to address your letter to would be. If you live in a country with a parliamentary structure, you should have a representative in the legislative body who represents your hometown, your province or your district. If not, you are welcome to write to any policymaker who serves on a health-related committee or to your government’s health department. Identify a specific person and obtain their office’s email address (this information should be publicly available).
Drafting the Letter
An effective letter is both factual and personal. To make the biggest impact, ensure your letter shows your knowledge of health systems but also states how this issue affects your life
- Start with an outline. The introductory paragraph should be courteous. Identify yourself, and if you’re writing to your representative, mention that you are a constituent and briefly state why you are writing this letter (e.g., to urge them to pass or propose legislation that provides affordable healthcare to everyone).
- If you are writing about specific legislation being considered in your government’s legislative body, include the name or number of the proposed legislation and explain how and why you want your representative to vote on this issue.
- In the next paragraph, state the facts. Talk about the state of universal health coverage in your country; universal health coverage is a wise and necessary investment. Acknowledge progress made, and talk about the positive impacts of that progress on the
quality of life in your country. Make a case for why more progress is necessary and why we cannot afford to ignore the unfinished work. In your appeal, refer to reliable data to back up your claims and cite your sources every time (e.g., “the World Bank states that UHC is a wise investment because ...”)
- If you have a personal story relevant to universal health coverage, start the next paragraph with this story. Remember that universal health coverage intersects with mental health, LGBTQ+ rights, gender equity, climate change and many other issues. You can and are welcome to talk about how universal health coverage sits at the heart of addressing the issues that matter to you.
- In the end, thank your government official for taking the time to read your letter, and let them know that you are expecting a response regarding how they plan to address your concerns.
Editing and sending your letter
- The last step is to edit your letter, which should not be more than a page long (maximum 500 words). Visit the UHC Day website's official campaign messaging to find information to bolster your arguments. If possible, have a friend, teacher or family member read your letter and give you feedback. Lastly, double-check the facts and statistics you used and make sure they’re up to date and from reliable sources. You are all done.
- The last step is to send the letter. When you email your representative or government official, state your intention clearly in the email subject line and paste the content of your letter into the email body.
- Pat yourself on the back for being an engaged citizen!
Use the power of the pen to inspire others to join us in building the world we want.
Magazines, newspapers and press outlets can serve as platforms for amplifying the objectives of a campaign and calling attention to the dire need for change. Remember that while your op ed is going to be focused on the importance of universal health coverage, you can and should bring your unique voice into the piece. Whether it’s telling the story of a time when access to affordable health services helped you or your family overcome an emergency or talking about how as a young person living with the health consequences of a changing climate, your generation needs equitable access to healthcare more than ever, a genuine and authentic voice is what makes the most impact on the reader. The first step to writing an op-ed is asking yourself, “Why does this matter to me?”
Once you’ve had time to reflect and know the answer to the above question, follow the guidelines below to ensure you write a successful op-ed.
Before you put pen to paper, it’s important to lay down the foundations that help your piece come together. While this stage of the op-ed process might seem trivial, it is necessary for a coherent and compelling voice to emerge at the end.
- Determine your audience. Are you writing for activists who work on mental health or climate change? Are you writing for policymakers? Are you writing for young people to think about the story you want to tell? Identify a specific audience that your message will resonate with.
- Identify potential outlets you want to pitch to. The audience and outlet are already determined if you’re writing for your school newspaper. But if you want to publish your piece in other outlets, think about which ones your piece would be well-suited to. Considering the topic you’re writing about and the audience you are trying to reach will help narrow down the list.
- Once you have identified potential outlets, take the time to read several op-eds published in those outlets. This will give you good examples of what the final draft should look like and help you familiarize yourself with the tone and expected range of word count for the outlets you have in mind.
Brainstorm and outline checklist
This stage is just about getting your thoughts on paper. Think about your op-ed like a puzzle. The brainstorming piece is about first laying the pieces in front of you, and the outline stage is about you slowly putting the pieces together for a helpful contour to emerge. Follow the steps below to get the most out of the brainstorming and outline process.
- Think about the different components of your piece, from personal to factual. Remember that it doesn’t matter if the first thoughts you put on paper aren’t as well-formulated as you’d like them to be. The editorial stage comes later.
- Once you have your thoughts on paper, look at the official UHC messaging from this year’s campaign. Read through all the sub-themes and think about which angle of messaging might expand your piece.
- Now that you have your scrambled thoughts on paper, begin creating a skeleton for your piece. Whether you’re telling a personal story or analyzing the nexus of universal health coverage with an issue that matters to you, think about how you can make your piece flow. Always think about where and how you can incorporate a call to action.
- The outline should identify the thoughts that go into the introduction, the body and the conclusion. Write it all out, and rest assured that you can always change things if you need to.
Drafting and editing checklist
- When your outline is ready, begin drafting your piece paragraph by paragraph. If you exceed the word count, you can cut it down later. When you have a first draft, think through these points:
- Make sure you can make the transition from one thought to another as seamless as possible.
- Is the urgency for universal health coverage and the call to action clear in your draft?
- Would it appeal to the audience the piece is intended for? How can the language be more accessible and impactful?
- Work through 2 or 3 drafts of the piece independently. Take breaks. Go on walks. Dance. Do things that inspire you and look at each draft with fresh eyes.
- Now it’s time for feedback! Share your draft with your teacher, professor, friend or helpful community member. Ask them to give you concrete feedback on what you’ve written. Incorporate the feedback into your piece and ask them if they would be willing to read your updated draft. It’s best to ask for input from multiple people to ensure that your piece ends up as polished as it can be.
You’re all done! Congrats! Now go ahead and submit your piece to the publication. It’s okay if you don’t hear back from the first outlet you pitch to. Go through your list of potential outlets and pitch your piece one at a time. Remember that you cannot send your piece to more than one outlet at once!
Gather your community, share food, and foster conversation about how we can achieve universal health coverage and build the world we want.
Holding a panel is a powerful way to educate your community on the importance of universal health coverage. Fostering an informed discussion about how to build a health system that your community needs from all levels. Listening to experts makes us better equipped to carve a pathway to the world we want. We assembled some tools and resources to help support you in putting together your own panel.
Step 1: Preparatory Checklist
These are the initial steps you need to take when planning your panel. Make sure you start thinking through these steps as early as possible. The bigger the scale of your event, the earlier you should begin the planning process.
- Clearly define the event’s main objectives. Draft a page identifying the event’s target audience, how you want your panel to be held (virtual or in-person), the date of the event, and the expected number of attendees you would like to have at the event.
- Think about the people and expertise that would be important to the conversation. Are there professors at nearby universities, and are their community leaders that have spoken passionately about the topic? Are there medical providers in your community who are passionate about equitable access to healthcare? Research the right experts and identify the speakers you would like to invite. Then, define the scope of the panel accordingly. Examples include the economics of universal health coverage, the impact of universal health coverage on patient outcomes, the need for universal health coverage in a changing climate, etc.
- Reach you to the experts you have identified and ask them if they would be willing to take part in the panel on the date you have in mind. (pro tip: always have a backup list of a few panelists in case your initial choices are not able to participate)
- Assess your needs (e.g., venue, promotional posters, invitations, social media graphics, panelists, equipment, food, etc.).
- Assess your budget and allocate an appropriate portion to each item (food, promotional material, etc.). If your budget does not cover your event's costs, reconsider your needs or plan to fundraise for your event (for instance, through a bake sale).
- Create a timeline by which you expect to accomplish concrete tasks in planning your event. For instance, it’s always a good idea to send your invitations 2 to 3 weeks before your event and follow up with a reminder as the event date approaches.
- Divide up the tasks amongst your team members. Make sure each person is fully aware of their responsibilities and the date by which they are expected to have accomplished their respective tasks. Check in with one another regularly to help keep everyone on track.
- Secure the event venue as early as possible.
- Identify a moderator (it could be yourself) and ensure you have a polished set of thoughtful questions to ask during your panel.
Step 2: Outreach Checklist
Now that you’ve done the initial planning, it’s time to spread the word. Follow the strategies below to maximize your outreach.
- On an event management platform like EventBrite, create a page with an RSVP link and useful information about your event. This should include the event summary, date, time, address, and other irrelevant information.
- Make a creative graphic that captures information relevant to your event.
- If you’re on a school or university campus, contact student clubs and ask them to include information about the panel, the RSVP link, and the graphic in their club newsletters.
- Reach out to your local newspaper and ask whether they would be willing to publicize your event in their next issue. You can also contact professors whose courses align with your event’s subject matter and ask them to tell their students about your event.
- Text your friends and community members to inform them and provide them with information about your panel.
- Create a printable poster of your graphic and place the poster on different bulletin boards, both digital and print.
Step 3: Checklist of things to do right before and during your event
Congrats! You’ve made it this far and are about to hold an inspiring panel about equitable access to healthcare! Follow these last steps to make sure everything goes smoothly.
- Make sure the logistics are well-coordinated. If you’re serving food, when is the food arriving? Plan enough time in advance to set everything up. If you’re in a large venue, are the microphones working? Small details like this make a difference.
- Be warm and welcoming and introduce your event’s organizers at the very beginning. This way, people will know who to approach if they have questions.
- If you are the moderator, ask questions and ensure each panelist has enough time to respond. When you are done with your questions, allow time for Q&A and give your guests the chance to ask your panelists their questions.
- In the end, thank your guests and your panelists for taking time out of their day to attend your event and participate in a valuable conversation. Let your guests know that if they are curious about the UHC Day campaign, they can visit the uhcday.org website for resources on how to get involved.
- Well done! Pat yourself on the back, and make sure to submit documentation of your event to win points towards becoming a UHC champion!