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UHC 2030 Agenda: Nations off track, says WHO

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By Bankole Opeyemi

The world is off track in its bid to achieve Universal Health Coverage in 2030, Director-General, World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Gbebreyesus, said on Tuesday.

In a statement released on the WHO’s website, the DG said for nations to achieve universal health coverage, they must make both “political” and “economic” choices on which, he said, quality health care hinges on.

Gbebreyesus also revealed that leaders around the world would adopt “historic” declaration in the annals of global health at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly in September this year.

He said his message at the high-level meeting would be clear: that UHC is a political choice. “I call on all leaders to make that choice – starting with participating personally in the high-level meeting and working to ensure that the meeting is a success. Everyone can express their support for #HealthForAll by signing this petition

“But UHC is also a smart economic choice. When countries invest in health, they lay a platform for gains in productivity and economic growth. When people are healthy, they can learn, earn, work and create. The benefits for businesses, economies, individuals, families, communities and countries are enormous,” he stated.

The DG stated that UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit will take place on 23 September alongside the UHC high-level meeting and would include two crucial health-related commitments: first to cut
carbon emissions and reduce air pollution; and second to spur more investment in climate action, public health and sustainable development.

Part of the statement reads: “I have just returned from a visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to review the response to the Ebola outbreak. I was
reminded once again that Ebola is just one symptom of a deeper problem: when people don’t have access to health services, or those services are of poor quality or don’t meet their needs, diseases can spread and lives can be lost.

“That’s why the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) at the United Nations General Assembly on 23 September is so important. It’s a historic opportunity for world leaders to ensure that no one is denied access to the health services they need simply because they cannot access or afford them.

“In 2015, world leaders made a commitment to achieve UHC by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. In the lead-up to the General Assembly, WHO and partners will publish the latest version of the Global Monitoring Report on UHC, which will show we are off-course to meet that target. Far too many people still lack access to essential health services, or are pushed into extreme poverty by
paying for them.

“This September, all countries will sign up to the most comprehensive declaration on health in history. It builds on the commitments made by world leaders at the Astana Global Conference on Primary Health Care
in 2018, in which all countries committed to strengthening primary health care as the foundation of UHC.

Specifically, countries will commit to investing in four major areas: robust financing mechanisms, high-impact services, a strong health workforce, and strengthened governance and institutional capacity.”

The DG further reiterated the support of WHO for countries on their path towards UHC through strategic support and technical assistance. These efforts, he said, would be bolstered by initiatives such as UHC 2030, a global movement to build stronger health systems, and the UHC Partnership, a country-level resource that provides technical expertise, builds capacity and supports policy dialogue.

“Supporting countries on the road to UHC and the other health-related targets in the Sustainable Development Goals is not a job for WHO alone. In addition to the UHC Global Monitoring Report, WHO and 11 other agencies will be releasing the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All on 24 September, which outlines the ways in which we will work together to deliver the SDG health goals by aligning our work, accelerating progress and keeping ourselves accountable for results.

“The UN Secretary General’s Climate Action Summit, which will take place on 23 September alongside the UHC high-level meeting, will include two crucial health-related commitments: first to cut carbon emissions and reduce air pollution; and second to spur more investment in climate action, public health and sustainable development.”

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