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Sustainable Development Goals

©UN

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were developed by the United Nations (UN) to mobilize efforts in all countries to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. The goals apply universally and are part of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development.

The SDGs for health and wellbeing entitled "Universal Health Coverage for All by 2030", aim to ensure healthy lives and to promote the well-being for all at all ages.

From the patients’ perspective, the key target within the health goals is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030. We believe this specific goal is essential to achieve other health and wellbeing goals such as reducing premature mortality from communicable and non-communicable diseases.

But what does Universal Health Coverage mean?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the goal of universal health coverage is “to ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them.” The WHO notes there are four essential elements for a country to achieve universal health coverage. An efficient well run, people-centred health system; affordability; access to essential medicines and technologies; and finally a health workforce that is well trained and at sufficient capacity.[1]

EPF has worked on the definition of access provided by the Patient Access Partnership (PACT) based on the 5 As of access, and has developed a definition which encompasses the key dimensions and elements of the concept. Our campaign will reflect on those fundamental principles in order to ensure equitable access to high quality healthcare from the perspective of patients with chronic conditions.[2]

The main dimensions are as follow:

  • Availability – whether a healthcare service or product is available in the healthcare system of a country.
  • Affordability – whether seeking healthcare causes financial hardship to patients.
  • Accessibility – whether there are barriers, other than financial (e.g. waiting lists, geographical barriers…), that stop patients from accessing healthcare
  • Adequacy – the quality of healthcare and involvement of patients in shared decision making with their healthcare professionals
  • Appropriateness – whether healthcare meets the need of different groups in the population.

Additionally, EPF identified crucial elements that patients with chronic conditions need access to in order to reach universal health coverage:

  • a holistic approach to health and well-being,
  • access to services in connection to patients’ personal health (including social services),
  • access to healthcare products and innovation,
  • access to supporting tools and services (including information and peer support),
  • having a choice as regards the management of their conditions as part of shared decision making with the healthcare team.

In our perspective, EPF’s patient-led definition should be used to set policy goals and indicators to measure access, in order to achieve universal access to healthcare for patients in the EU.