Health and equal opportunities minister Lydia Mutsch, pictured, said: “We must guarantee the right of all those living in Luxembourg to access safe, effective, quality and affordable healthcare services and products”
Photo: Maison moderne/archives
World Health Day is celebrated each year on 7 April and is the opportunity to focus global attention on the right of every human being to health and universal healthcare. As well as supporting projects abroad, Luxembourg has not forgotten its needy population at home.
“Universal healthcare is an indispensable element for the health and well-being of the world’s population,” said the Luxembourg health ministry in a statement from the directorate for development cooperation and humanitarian affairs, published to mark this year’s edition, which coincided with the 70th anniversary of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Luxembourg has been a strong supporter of universal healthcare and has worked in partnership with the WHO to this end since 2013, the goal being that 1 billion people will benefit from universal healthcare by 2023.
One of the primary objectives of the partnership is to, “[...] strengthen the capacity of recipient countries to develop and implement sound, effective and sustainable health policies, strategies and plans that promote more equitable universal health coverage.”
The recipient countries involved in the move to introduce universal healthcare are Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Mali, Niger, Senegal and, since 2015, also Laos.
According to Luxembourg’s minister for cooperation and humanitarian action, Romain Schneider, "This partnership is an essential complement to the bilateral cooperation and health programmes led by the grand duchy. In Senegal or Laos, where Luxembourg’s bilateral support for the health sector is considerable, the partnership brings together development actors around the common goal of universal healthcare and promotes real synergies.”
However, it is not all about projects abroad. Luxembourg has not forgotten its needy population at home. Difficult as it may be to imagine, it has its own population of disenfranchised who find it difficult, if not impossible, to access healthcare.
Here the question of universal health coverage manifests itself in terms of access to certain treatments for marginalised people, such as antiretroviral treatment for HIV for drug users, people engaging in prostitution and the homeless, for example. These people often have no fixed address and are, therefore, not eligible to benefit from health insurance, meaning that the risk of contracting and developing a contagious disease is higher. Access to treatment for this at-risk group can also be poor as they do not often visit health centres, nor do they adhere to treatment programmes when they do go.
In this regard, the press release reiterated the commitment of Lydia Mutsch, minister for health and minister for equal opportunities, on World AIDS Day last December when she confirmed her will to, “continue the work we have started towards an approach as inclusive as possible, so that we can reach all of those who are particularly at risk. We must guarantee the right of all those living in Luxembourg to access safe, effective, quality and affordable healthcare services and products, whether they are medicines, diagnostics or preventative medical strategies.”