Document Type : Commentary
Independent Consultant, Lyon, France
The University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Department of Population Medicine and Health Services Research, School of Public Health, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany
Section for Health Equity Studies & Migration, Heidelberg University Hospital, Heidelberg, Germany
While Australia’s health system has reached universal health coverage (UHC), recent scholarship points to its strengths and identifies ways it could be more effective and equitable, especially for tackling non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Building on the Australian experience, we add to these perspectives and present pertinent lessons for the quest towards UHC, and for policy-makers globally with regard to NCDs. Potential lessons include: the need for (i) vigilance – UHC requires ongoing monitoring and evaluation of not only financial risk protection but non-financial barriers and impacts such as forgone care; (ii) investment and action now on structural determinants of NCDs and related inequalities to avoid potentially higher (fiscal, social and health) costs in the longer term; and (iii) the opportunity for policy-makers globally and nationally to revisit their ambitions for UHC to include population health policies/programs beyond essential health services that are required for healthier, more equitable and thriving societies.