Recently a change was made to an indicator within one of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). This change is making it difficult for us, as well as other organisations, to measure some of the impact we’re having in improving the lives of those living in poverty but, it’s also making it more difficult to see how else we can help. 

We are working alongside over 300 other organisations to have the indicator revised.

What's it all about

SDG Target 3.8 looks at universal health coverage and aims to ensure that everyone can access the quality health services they need without being pushed or pushed further into poverty. To measure whether or not this is happening it has two indicators. The first one captures healthcare coverage (3.8.1) and the second one looks at financial protection (3.8.2).

Recently changes have been made to the second indicator (3.8.2) which mean that we will not be able to measure how many people are suffering financial hardship to pay for the health services they need. For example, we won’t be able to tell if a person affected by leprosy is struggling to feed and house themselves because they have to use their earning to pay for healthcare.

We’re not happy about this and are joining in supporting a change to the indicator. We agree that instead of saying this:

“number of people covered by health insurance or a public health system per 1,000 population”

it should say this:

“lack of coverage by a form of financial protection.”

Why does it matter?

The current indicator does not measure what matters and it risks promoting just one mechanism—insurance—without tracking the impact of paying for health on the individual -  so can a person afford to pay for food if they’re having to pay for healthcare treatment?

For us, it’s important that we measure the correlation between the money an individual has to spend on healthcare and their economic situation. It helps us to see how a neglected disease affects a person beyond their physical well-being and allows us to identify how we can work further to fight poverty.

For example, if we know that an individual is spending a large portion of their wage on their healthcare we can look at ways of creating better access to treatment at a lower cost.

The changes to the indicator mean that currently we’re only seeing part of the picture. We are not able to see how much impact we’ve had, if our work is helping to lift people out of poverty and what more we can do.

What we're doing?

Tomorrow the Inter-Agency Expert Group (IAEG) will meet in Mexico. We want them to review Universal Health Coverage indicator 3.8.2 and revise it according to the civil society and WHO/WB recommendations.

Along with over 300 other organisations, including The Rockefeller Foundation and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, we are urging all members to revise the indicator.

So far 631 individuals have signed a letter to the Inter-Agency and Expert Group calling for robust measurement of financial risk protection. Leaders like Graça Machel and Anne Mills have also come forward to add their support.

We’ll keep you posted on what they decide but in the meantime you can find out how to get involved and help improve the lives of those affected by disease and poverty by clicking here.