United Nations General Assemby September 2012: RMNCH In focus


Special Lancet release on MNCH

As the 67th meeting of the United Nations General Assembly gets underway, The Lancet is publishing a collection of papers outlining the latest thinking on how this can be achieved, as well as highlighting critical issues of accountability and equity.

  • Development aid for maternal and child heath stalls, despite increasing number of donors
  • Child mortality in Niger plummets
  • Equitable approach the best way to rapidly increase overall maternal and child health coverage
  • UNICEF studies highlight the importance of equity in maternal and child health improvement strategies

Lancet special: Universal Health Coverage

Themed issue, published 7 Sept 2012

Executive summary

Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organization, has stated that "Universal Health Coverage is the single most powerful concept that public health has to offer." In this themed issue of The Lancet, the first of three Series papers explores the evidence on the links between expansions in coverage and population health outcomes. The second paper looks at the political and economic dimensions of the transition to universal health coverage, and the third examines nine low-income and lower-middle-income countries in Africa and Asia that have implemented national health insurance reforms. Also, a Viewpoint calls for continued progress and argues for a large public sector role in health systems reform.

What becomes clear in this issue is that although universal health coverage is not a guarantee for progress, attention should focus now not on whether, but on how to make the most of the transition. In a Comment, Judith Rodin and David de Ferranti conclude: "what will emerge in the decades ahead in each country undertaking reform is not entirely clear, but, as this Series and many country examples suggest, we are getting closer to a time when this [transition toward universal health coverage] will be achieved and families will no longer be at risk of having the cost of sickness ruin their lives."