By Oluseyi Kehinde and Ekanem Itoro Effiong
Achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is a goal we should all be striving for. Across the world, countless people are suffering unnecessary harm and death as a result of lack of access to affordable, necessary healthcare. While all of us suffer to varying degrees when healthcare is not universally available, it is the most marginalized in our societies who are impacted the most. As a young transgender woman who uses drugs my communities are among those most impacted by lack of access to healthcare. Young Inadequately Served Populations (ISPs), particularly in the Global South, are the communities who are going to continue to be left behind if we do not achieve UHC.
In the past year, the Covid-19 pandemic has made the need for UHC all the more clear. Over the course of the past year it has become clearer than ever that a lack of access to healthcare for a minority can have a major impact on the health and wellbeing of the majority, meaning to ensure the health and wellbeing of society as a whole, we must ensure that healthcare is universally available. As this report will outline, for young ISPs, even in countries with good access to healthcare overall, this is still not the case.
As we edge closer to 2030, and the deadline set for the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), without UHC it is clear these targets, in particular for SDG 3 of Good Health and Wellbeing, will be all but impossible to achieve. In particular, in relation to the ISPs we work with most closely at Youth RISE; Young People Who Use Drugs (YPWUD), the target of ending AIDS by 2030 is neigh-on impossible if we do not work to ensure UHC, including for HIV, drug-related, and other harm reduction services, is reached.