11 May 2023

On 8 May 2023, the Co-chairs of the Group of Friends of UHC and Global Health and Co-facilitators of 2023 UN HLMs on Health hosted a high-level luncheon in partnership with the Coalition of Partnerships for UHC and Global Health, WHO and IFRC.

Photo of Gabriela Cuevas Barron at luncheon

Taking place ahead of the multi-stakeholder hearings on tuberculosis (TB), pandemic prevention, preparedness and response (PPPR), and universal health coverage (UHC), which were held at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York on 8-9 May, 2023, the luncheon focused on getting health back on the highest political agenda at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2023. In September, three high-level meetings on health will take place against the backdrop of the SDG Summit for the SDG mid-term review. The luncheon was focused on promoting linkages between these three health agendas to ensure coordinated and accelerated action from both member states and all stakeholders for strengthening health systems, building resilience towards health emergencies, and achieving UHC.

The luncheon provided an opportunity for interactive dialogue between over 100 member states and 50 key stakeholders across sectors engaging in preparation for the three UN health-related high-level meetings in 2023. Multi-stakeholder and expert groups presented strategic synergies among key proposals and recommendations to accelerate progress on TB, PPPR, and UHC and discussed them with member states to inform preparations for the three UN high-level meetings and their outcome documents.

The luncheon was moderated by Dr. Githinji GItahi, Group CEO, Amref Health and was opened with welcome remarks from H.E. Mr. Kimihiro Ishikane, Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN. There were keynote remarks by the Co-faciliators for the 2023 high-level meetings on health: H.E. Mr. Omar Hilale, Permanent Representative of Morocco to the UN (Co-faciliator for the Political Declaration of the HLM on pandemic PPR), H.E. Dr. Suriya Chindawongse, Permanent Representative of Thailand to the UN (Co-facilitator for the Political Declaration on UHC) and H.E. Mr. Krzysztof Szczerski, Permanent Representative of Poland to the UN (Co-facilitator for the Political Declaration on TB). Dr. Jerôme Salomon, Assistant Director-General, Universal Health Coverage/Communicable and Non-communicable Diseases from the WHO also provided keynote remarks, on behalf of the Director-General. Speakers highlighted their commitment to ensuring all of the high-level meeting processes are collaborative and emphasized the coordinating role of the WHO in global health architecture.

Ms. Gabriela Cuevas Barron, Co-chair of the UHC2030 Steering Committee, Mr. Obiefuna Arinze Austin, Vice Chair of the Stop TB Partnership Board, and Ms. Monika Arora, President-elect of the NCD Alliance, on behalf of the Coalition of Partnerships for UHC and Global Health, provided presentations from their multi-stakeholder groups. Ms. Joy Phumaphi, Co-chair of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board and a member of the UHC Movement Political Advisory Panel, provided remarks on behalf of the independent expert group. They all emphasised the need to keep health on the highest political agenda and the urgent need for countries to turn their commitments to actions.

In addition to calling for sustainable investments in health systems, speakers stressed the importance of placing people and communities at the forefront, as they are the ones that can hold governments accountable.

This entails including the primary health care (PHC) approach in the political declaration, building trust, ensuring meaningful engagement of communities and civil society, and providing frontline health workers with adequate resources and protection.

The speakers emphasised that countries with people-centred, equity-focused health systems and strong community participation are more resilient, sustainable, equitable and better prepared to respond to emergencies. They called on leaders to prioritise health at all times and to make actionable commitments backed by investments. They also highlighted the critical role parliamentarians play in establishing budgets and creating enabling laws and regulations to make progress on UHC, while calling for future UNGA health progress review summits to enhance synergies in global health.

Ms. Laura Olson, Permanent Observer, IFRC Delegation to the UN outlined the way forward and concluded the event. 

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