“Universal Health Coverage (UHC)” as the theme for the 2018 world health day celebration means that all people receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship. UHC is to be achieved by the year 2030 as part of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). UHC will result in reduction in the prevalence of epidemics, poverty, hunger and increase in quality of life, life expectancy and economic growth. Achieving UHC cannot be a done overnight but all countries need to take appropriate steps to hasten it.
Pneumonia is the highest cause of death in children under five (5) especially in sub-Saharan Africa. It accounts for 16 % of all deaths in Africa, deadlier than Malaria. Sub-Saharan Africa carries about half of the burden of the world’s under-five deaths. Progress in the fight against pneumonia has slacked behind that of the others. Pneumonia mortality rates in children have fallen by just 50 per cent compared to an 85 per cent decline in measles deaths, and 60 per cent in deaths from malaria, AIDS and tetanus in the last 15 years. The global funding to address the burden of pneumonia in children is low and this is potentially hindering the effort to reduce the mortalities associated with the disease.
Maternal and infant mortality has reduced over the years in sub-Saharan African but it is still the highest globally. Maternal Mortality Ratio in this region was approximately 66% (201,000) with 45% decrease in Infant Mortality rate between the periods of 1990 and 2015. Women on this part of the world face 15 times the dangers of childbirth and pregnancy situations as compared to those in the developed countries, children on the other hand are more than 14 times more likely to die before attaining age 5 than children in the developed world. This is partly because of challenges of patient referral. Referral is when a health professional at a lower health facility requests that a patient should seek for healthcare services at a higher health facility. The key among other challenges in referring a patient to a higher health facility from rural communities in sub-Saharan is the means of transport. This significantly and negatively affected the achievement of Maternal and Child health outcome in spite of the good works ongoing in sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, for countries in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve the targets of the goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) which is to Ensure Healthy Lives and Wellbeing for all at all ages, the issue of geographic and physical barriers to healthcare facilities should be well looked into. Government and non-governmental organizations should help in the building of health facilities in rural and deprived communities, provide ambulance services, provide adequate health officers and drugs. All these coupled with good road network would help people in these communities. Also, primary healthcare should be placed within the cultural settings of these people, so that they can embrace and easily access it to save mothers and children from preventable deaths. Finally, other sub-Saharan African countries should adopt the Community-based Health Planning and Services (CHPS) compound system of primary healthcare provision introduced in Ghana to help reduce the maternal and infant mortality rate drastically by 2030.