Bangkok, 08 December 2017 – One of the most recurring issues among communities and civil society when it comes to Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is that while there may be health coverage or similar schemes in their countries that activists are familiar of, these are insufficient to cater the needs of everyone, especially among those who are marginalized due to stigma, discrimination, criminalization, or simply because they are considered invisible. This was among the many conversations that took place in a two-day regional caucus organized by Global Fund Advocates Network – Asia-Pacific.
Around 40 community representatives, civil society, key population networks, Global Fund representatives, and other stakeholders from 20 countries, mostly from Asia-Pacific, attended the regional meeting in Bangkok, which sought to provide a space to exchange critical UHC-related information to raise awareness on the importance of ensuring inclusiveness of communities and civil society in UHC in-country planning processes; determine priority gaps in UHC in relation to key populations and excluded groups with a priority and focus on community, rights, and gender issues; and develop key country and regional advocacy messages and strategize for effective and inclusive UHC to leave no one behind. The caucus also aimed to raise awareness and strategize on key advocacy messages and activities leading up to the 6th Global Fund Replenishment that will take place by the 3rd quarter of 2019.
The caucus had talk shows, presentations, and activities that unpacked country-level and key population and affected communities’ issues through person-oriented, consultative approaches. At the development of the advocacy agenda and key asks, five themes transpired: (1) integration of HIV, TB, and malaria services; (2) upholding human rights and promoting equity, (3) supporting financing for UHC, (4) identifying the role of communities in the UHC, and (5) setting accountability mechanisms on UHC. GFAN AP, APCASO, and a number of participants also intended to form a small writing team to develop the statement further, which will cover communities’ positions on UHC in preparation for the upcoming UHC Forum in Japan this 13-14 December as well as key asks for the upcoming 6th Global Fund Replenishment Mechanism.
A community and civil society statement of the regional caucus, titled “The UHC That We Want”, was developed out of the meeting and has been signed on by a number of organizations in the region and globally.