People walking in a street

Everyone, everywhere has a Right to Healthcare

Health coverage is a fundamental human right, yet 400 million people still have no access to basic healthcare1 and 40% of the global population lack any form of social protection2. In real time these alarming statistics translate into daily human tragedies: a young mother who dies during childbirth in a fragile state because she lacks access to a hospital; a child dropping out of school because health expenses have pushed his family into poverty; an adult living in the inner city of a middle-income country suffering from chronic non-communicable diseases and not receiving treatment.

“Do we want our fellow citizens to die because they are poor? Or to see millions of families impoverished by catastrophic health expenditures because they lack financial risk protection?” asks Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization in reaction to this year’s World Health Day that calls for “Universal health coverage: everyone, everywhere”.

Infographic about Healthcare for all

A Global Response

The answer is a resounding no. The global response to improving people’s access to healthcare is focused on three main areas: non-communicable disease, infectious disease and preventative measures such as immunization.

Non-communicable diseases such as cancers, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes and mental health disorders are estimated to be responsible for 36 million deaths annually – that’s Canada’s entire population. Three quarters of these deaths occur in low and middle-income countries where people have limited access to healthcare3.

One of the UN Sustainable Development Goals is to reduce premature deaths from non-communicable diseases by one-third by 2030, and it is also the aim of the Access Accelerated initiative (AA) that was launched by Sanofi together with 22 other pharmaceutical companies.

Sanofi’s commitment to the AA includes programs such as FAST – Fight Against Stigma – which demands better mental health care in developing countries and supports people like Josiane in Madagascar who suffer from schizophrenia, which makes her often angry and irritable.

Another program, KiDS, supports children with type 1 diabetes and is “essential for promoting healthy living at an early age, potentially helping in the prevention of type 2 diabetes,” says Antonio Tataranni, Head of Medical Affairs. One of its flagship programs is the Sanofi Espoir Foundation’s My Child Matters that focuses on increasing the level of care for children affected by cancer in low and middle-income countries. Since its inception, My Child Matters has treated more than 75,000 children, helped to train 20,000 health professionals, and delivered 55 projects in 42 countries.

International collaboration also focuses on the eradication, elimination and control of infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, malaria, polio and sleeping sickness, which lie at the core of health vulnerabilities in low- and middle-income countries.

Sanofi has partnered with the WHO since 2001 to address several neglected tropical diseases, including sleeping sickness, providing treatments at no cost and supporting the development of local people. It also collaborates with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi) to develop a new oral treatment with the aim of eliminating the disease by 20204. Since 2001, more than 40 million people have been screened and over 210,000 patients have received lifesaving treatments.

Lifesaving strategies also come in the form of prevention. An estimated 1.5 million deaths could be avoided with better access to vaccines5. Through partnerships with international organizations such as the World Health Organization, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and UNICEF, Sanofi Pasteur has provided more than 6 billion doses of the oral polio vaccine over the last decade and 1 billion doses of injectable vaccine as part of the global polio eradication initiative.

Health Policies for Everyone

While the international stage has a global reach, each country faces its own needs in terms of healthcare solutions and has a responsibility to providing universal healthcare for its people.

One country demonstrating the possibility to achieve universal health coverage is China. The world’s most populous country, with 1.4 billion inhabitants, faces significant healthcare challenges; large public hospitals are crowded and patients face lengthy delays that impact the quality of care and patient experience. Significant differences in infrastructure provisions and staffing also remain between urban and rural areas and individual provinces.

Infographic about the main emerging diseases prevalence in China

To accelerate the pace of healthcare reform, the country is implementing the Healthy China 2030 blueprint to put health at the center of the entire policymaking strategy, encompassing medical services, health insurance, the health industry, the environment, health, food, drug safety and physical exercise.

“The Healthy China 2030 program reflects the country’s general ambitions to instill a better and healthier environment, improved primary care and increased prevention,” says Jean-Christophe Pointeau, Sanofi Country Chair for China. “The scope and speed of China’s progress has been remarkable and shows what is possible in moving toward universal health coverage.”

Since 2009, China has made great strides in reforming its healthcare system and in bringing the population close to universal coverage through the expansion of government-funded basic medical insurance. Through successive programs, the portion of the population insured has increased from 50% in 2005 to more than 95% today. China is now looking at how to ensure long-term sustainability of the system, notably through the development of complementary/private insurance schemes.

The country is also running a pilot project to reduce congestion in the hospitals by encouraging patients to make their first point of contact with their primary care facilities.

National awareness and actions are key elements in the fight to achieve universal health coverage for its citizens, with each nation becoming a building block in the international collaboration to reach everyone, everywhere. We all have a role to play to fulfil our fellow citizen’s right to health.



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