Testing, women’s empowerment & UHC
FIND and Women in Global Health are working together to explore the potential of women as drivers of change in health systems, to help close the testing gap that is holding back universal health coverage (UHC).
While development of – and access to – drugs and vaccines have long been the focus of global health efforts, testing has often been an afterthought, particularly when it comes to primary healthcare services. That neglect has been laid bare by COVID-19. The lack of attention to and investment in testing means that for every person diagnosed with a disease, another goes undetected – 50% of patients get no care at all or get care too late.
Accurate diagnosis enables more accurate treatment. A discussion paper has been developed to address two questions critical to delivery of UHC:
- Which barriers must be addressed to ensure testing reaches women who need it?
- How can the untapped potential of women be harnessed to drive testing for everyone who needs it?
- All countries have committed in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to deliver UHC by 2030. Even before COVID-19, however, the greatest gap in disease management was in diagnosis, not in treatment – up to 65% of cases for some diseases are never diagnosed. UHC will not be achieved without closing the testing gap.
- For UHC to succeed it must meet the health needs of women and men throughout the life course, including the needs of women and adolescent girls in pregnancy and childbirth. Gaps in access to testing in low-resource settings threaten the health and lives of women and adolescent girls and, in turn, undermine UHC.
- Women drive health systems as 70% of the global health and social workforce but only hold 25% decision making roles. Enabling women as self-carers, care-givers, health professionals and political decision-makers will help close the gap in testing and thereby, enable achievement of UHC for everyone.
This paper will be followed by a consultation to gather data, research and case studies for a comprehensive report on Testing, Women’s Empowerment and UHC, to be launched later in 2020.
You are invited to contribute
We encourage feedback on this discussion paper and the key themes in it. We are keen to hear from you about points we have missed, data, case studies, good practice examples and any other information and perspectives that would contribute to the FIND/WGH programme on women, testing and UHC. Please contact us with your feedback.