The UHC Movement Political Advisory Panel provides guidance to the UHC2030 Steering Committee to strengthen political support for universal health coverage (UHC). The political panel also conveys UHC2030’s messages to high-level political leaders to ensure that commitment translates into action in countries. 

The political advisors advise on opportunities to further use political processes to sustain high-level momentum on UHC. They also advise on how UHC2030 can follow up on the UHC political declaration, adopted at the UN High-Level Meeting on UHC in 2019. The political advisors have no legal status or binding obligations, they provide a purely advisory role.

Political Advisory Panel Terms of Reference

Introductory video on UHC Movement Political Advisory Panel

Mr. Elhadj As Sy

Chair of the Board, Kofi Annan Foundation (Co-chair of the WHO/World Bank Global Pandemic Preparedness Monitoring Board)

Elhadj As Sy is the Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation Board, and Co-chair of the WHO/World Bank Global Pandemic Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB). In addition to these functions, Mr. Sy is also a Commissioner for the Global Commission on Climate Adaptation, Governor at the Wellcome Trust, and a member of the Governing Board of Interpeace as well as numerous other boards and organizations.

Mr. Sy has extensive experience in leadership roles in the humanitarian, health, environment, development sectors, and has previously served as the Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) IFRC ‐ the world’s largest humanitarian network. Prior to this appointment, he served at a senior level with UNICEF, UNAIDS, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and other agencies for more than 25 years.

Mr. Sy was UNICEF’s Director of Partnerships and Resource Development in New York. He has also served as UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa and Global Emergency Coordinator for the Horn of Africa.

From 2005 to 2008, Mr. Sy was Director, HIV/AIDS Practice with the United Nations Development Programme in New York. Before that, he worked with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as its Africa Regional Director and later as Director of Operational Partnerships and Country Support in Geneva. Mr. Sy has also held the position of UNAIDS Representative in New York and Director of the New York Liaison Office.

From 1988 to 1997, he served as Director of Health and Development Programmes with Environment and Development Action in the Third World in Dakar, Senegal.

Mr. Sy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts and Human Sciences from the University of Dakar. He then pursued Master’s studies in Arts and Germanistik at the University of Graz, and graduated from the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna. He was also awarded a post graduate diploma in Education from the École normale supérieure in Dakar. He speaks English, French and German and is a national of Senegal

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Ms. Emilia Saiz

Secretary General of the United Cities and Local Governments

Emilia Saiz is a jurist by profession and has devoted its professional life to promoting the role of local governments in development as well as fostering relations between cities and their associations worldwide.

She started her journey as local government international advocate in the founding organization of UCLG, IULA in 1997.

She has led programmes dedicated to institutional capacity building and decentralized cooperation. She has actively promoted women empowerment, social inclusion and international partnerships.

She played a critical role in setting up the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments and has followed and represented local and regional governments in iconic international processes such as the Rio and Beijing + 20 as well the Climate Agreement the SDGs and Hábitat III.

She has further been deeply involved in the institutional development of United Cities and Local Governments into a network of networks.

During her work in the World Organization she has been appointed to numerous panels both in her personal and professional capacity. Her involvement in Cities Alliance, the General Alliance of Partners and the Cities Programme of the Global Compact are worth highlighting.

Her mission as Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) started in 2018. When asked about her priorities for coming years she mentions: ensuring that the global agendas are built from local priorities and that international action of local governments is understood as an indispensable role to fulfill local needs with solidarity, justice and accountability at the centre.

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Ms. Gabriela Cuevas Barron

President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (Congresswoman of Mexico)

Gabriela Cuevas Barron studied Political Science at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (ITAM), in addition to having participated in numerous programs and diplomas related to public administration.

She was elected Federal Member of Parliament the first time when she was 21 years old. Since then, she has been three times Federal Member of Parliament (2001 – 2003, 2009 – 2012, 2018 – currently), Local Member of Parliament (2003 –2006), Constituent Member of Parliament in the Constituent Assembly of Mexico City (2016 – 2017) where she presided the Commission of Mayors; Additionally, she was elected Mayor of the Miguel Hidalgo Delegation (2006 – 2009) becoming the only woman in charge of a demarcation during that period. She also chaired the Foreign Relations Commission when she served as Senator of the Republic (2012 – 2018).

Ms. Cuevas has also collaborated in the Euro-Lat Parliamentary Assembly proposing resolutions about migration, development and economic crisis. Furthermore, she writes in El Universal newspaper and supports multiple civil society organizations.

The principles that have guided her efforts have been transparency, citizen participation, combating corruption and protection of human rights. She obtained the Recognition for Innovations in Transparency from the Institute of Access to Public Information of Mexico City in 2009 and was decorated with the grade of Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by the Government of France in 2017.

In 2017 Gabriela Cuevas Barron became the youngest and the second woman President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The IPU was created in 1889, in an era when there were no established means for governments to work together internationally. Today, IPU is the oldest multilateral political organization, and it is also the only one made up of national parliaments from all around the globe. For the last 130 years, its main objective has been to promote democracy, human rights and the sustainable development agenda by empowering decision makers from 179 countries. Gabriela’s main commitment has been to strengthen the links between the member nations and the Presidency, listen to their concerns and promote collaborative dialogue.

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Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland

Member of The Elders (Former Prime Minister, Norway)

Gro Harlem Brundtland is a member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007, who work together for peace, justice and human rights.

Gro Harlem Brundtland, a medical doctor, was Norway’s first woman Prime Minister, serving a total of ten years as head of government between 1981 and 1996. She chaired the World Commission on Environment and Development – known as the Brundtland Commission – which articulated the principle of sustainable development for the first time at a global level. She was Director-General of the World Health Organization from 1998 to 2003, UN Special Envoy for Climate Change from 2007 to 2010 and, from 2011 to 2012, was a member of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Global Sustainability Panel. Since 2018, Gro Harlem Brundtland has served as a co-chair of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, an independent monitoring and accountability body to ensure preparedness for global health crises


Prof. Keizo Takemi

Member of the House of Councillors, Japan (Goodwill Ambassador for Universal Health Coverage, WHO)

Keizo Takemi is a member of the House of Councillors of the Japanese parliament, or Diet, where he belongs to the Liberal Democratic Party and serves as Chair of theSpecial Committee on Global Health Strategy. He was a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health from November 2007 to June 2009. He is also a visiting professor at a number of universities around the country including Nagasaki University.

Professor Takemi has been involved with various global initiatives focusing on global health, including the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA), WHO Expert Working Group on R&D Financing, and the international organizing committee of the Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC). In March 2016, he was appointed to the UN High Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth. In 2018, he was appointed to the UHC Financing Advisory Committee for the G20 2019. In addition, he is Vice Chair of the International Oversight Board for the National Academy of Medicine’s Global Roadmap for Healthy Longevity (USA). He has also been serving as the chair of the Parliamentary Caucus on Stop TB Partnership as well as of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD).

Professor Takemi served in the House of Councillors from 1995 to 2007, then returned to the Diet in December 2012 and was re-elected in July 2019. During his previous tenure in the Diet, he served in the first Abe administration’s cabinet as Senior Vice Minister for Health, Labour and Welfare. He led the initiative to establish the UN Trust Fund for Human Security when he was State Secretary for Foreign Affairs in 1999 and was subsequently named by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to serve as a member of the High Level Panel on UN System-Wide Coherence in Areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and Environment. He has been a senior fellow with the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE) since 2007, where he is the chair of the Executive Committee of the Global Health and Human Security Program. In recognition of his contributions to the field over the past decade, he was appointed WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in July 2019.


Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés

President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly (Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ecuador)

María Fernanda Espinosa is an academic, diplomat and politician with more than 30 years of professional experience in the academy, non-governmental and international organizations, and leadership positions within the Government of Ecuador. She is regarded as an expert in international affairs and the United Nations, defense and security, sustainable development, the environment, climate change, gender equality, and indigenous peoples’ rights. She has a vast experience in intergovernmental negotiations and is recognized as an international advocate of multilateralism and women’s rights and empowerment.

María Fernanda was an advisor on biodiversity and indigenous peoples’ policy and later regional director for South America of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN. Served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defense, Minister of Cultural and Natural Heritage and was the first female ambassador and permanent representative of Ecuador to the United Nations in New York. She was also permanent representative to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva. Most recently, served as President of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, becoming the fourth woman in history and the first from Latin America and the Caribbean to preside over this body since its foundation in 1945.

María Fernanda is recipient of numerous scholarships and acknowledgements from the Latin American Studies Association, the Ford Foundation, the Society of Woman Geographers, the Rockefeller Foundation, the German Agency for Cooperation, for her research and academic work about the Amazon, and her work in the Amazon on biodiversity, the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples.

Before beginning her political and diplomatic career, María Fernanda was Associate Professor and Researcher at the Latin American Faculty for Social Sciences, FLACSO, where she established and coordinated the Program on Socio-Environmental Studies. She has written over 30 academic articles about the Amazon region, culture, heritage, sustainable development, climate change, intellectual property, foreign policy, regional integration, defense, and security.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in applied linguistics from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador; a master’s degree in social sciences and Amazonian studies; and a postgraduate diploma in anthropology and political science from the Latin American Social Sciences Institute. She has completed advanced doctoral studies in Geography at Rutgers University.

María Fernanda Espinosa has produced several works of poetry that included an award from the National Poetry Prize of Ecuador in 1990.


Dr. Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis

Special Envoy for Universal Health Coverage for the European Region, WHO (Former European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety)

Andriukaitis was born on 9 August 1951 in Kyusyur in Siberia, where his family was deported in 1941 from Lithuania. He returned to Lithuania in 1957 together with his mother and two brothers. His father was permitted to return one year later. Andriukaitis went on to graduate from medical school in 1975 and had been a practicing surgeon, gaining specialisation in cardiovascular surgery in 1989, for more than 20 years.

He also holds a degree in History from Vilnius University acquired in 1984. From 1969 onwards the Commissioner was active in the anti-Soviet movement, while his political career began already in 1976. In 1990 Andriukaitis was elected to the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania which preceded Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament), and was a co-author and a signatory of the Independence Act of Lithuania on 11 March 1990. Vytenis Andriukaitis was also one of the co-authors of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania adopted in 1992, and one of the founders of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party.

Andriukaitis was a Member of the Lithuanian Parliament for six terms. During that time he served as a Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs, including during the accession to the EU in 2004; as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee; as a Vice- and later President of Social Democratic Party; and as a Deputy Speaker of the Parliament. The Commissioner was also the Head of the Lithuanian delegation to the Convention on the Future of Europe. From 2012 to 2014 Vytenis Andriukaitis was a Minister for Health in the Lithuanian Government. The European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety from 2014 to 2019. From 2020 - Special Envoy of the WHO for Universal Health Coverage for the European region.


Events around the world marked UHC Day 2019.


UHC2030 Co-Chairs, the Inter-Parliamentary Union President and...

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