1 February 2023

UHC2030 Steering Committee Co-chair statement following the World Health Organization 152nd Executive Board meeting discussions on universal health coverage (UHC), ahead of the World Health Assembly and the 2023 UN High-level meetings on health

Working together to achieve health for all

The 152nd Executive Board meetings of the World Health Organization have just concluded discussions on universal health coverage (UHC) in Geneva at the start of a critically important year for health. We welcome the Executive Board’s focus on the UN High-level meeting on universal health coverage, which was discussed under the first of three of WHO’s strategic pillars: “one billion more people benefiting from universal health coverage”. The Director-General of the World Health Organization briefed member states on the UN high-level meeting, and the aim to reorient health systems to primary health care as a resilient foundation for universal health coverage. We also welcome the resolution on universal health coverage, supported by 44 member states.

As Co-chairs of UHC2030, a global movement to build stronger health systems for universal health coverage, we believe that now is the time to work together to achieve health for all. We have to work together, to avoid fragmentation and duplication. And we have to work together across health, to ensure that everyone, everywhere, has access to the health services they need without risking falling into poverty. We have no time to lose, as half of the world’s population still lacks access to essential health services.

The three UN high-level meetings on health (on UHC, TB, and pandemic PPR), taking place in September 2023 at the UN General Assembly in New York, provide us with a unique opportunity to showcase how we strengthen our collaboration on health. We have an opportunity to strengthen people-centered health systems, and deliver health security, in all countries in the world. We have a unique opportunity in 2023 to set countries on track to deliver health for all people. But we can only achieve these ambitious goals if countries place high on their political agenda, and work towards strengthening integrated, primary-healthcare oriented health systems, and expand financial protection in particular for the most vulnerable people.

The UHC2030 movement advocates for both UHC and health security as two intertwined goals to protect everyone, everywhere, that we achieve through the same health system with focus on primary health care - in crisis and calm. As the COVID-19 pandemic and many other threats to health have shown, countries with strong, resilient health systems are better prepared to prevent and respond to health threats, including those with pandemic potential. 

The UHC2030 movement advocates for strong, resilient health systems with primary health care as the foundation, as this has been proven to be the most equitable, efficient and effective way to organize health systems. Health systems must be designed and implemented through social participation, and by empowering communities and people - with a particular focus on strengthening the role and leadership of women. 

The UHC2030 movement advocates to ensure that all necessary health services reach all people when they are needed, everywhere, and do not lead to poverty. All 193 UN member states committed to achieve universal health coverage as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 3.8), and with the 2019 UHC Political Declaration

Universal health coverage, primary health care, strong health systems, and global health security are essential, interlinked prerequisites to achieving health for all.

As Co-chairs of UHC2030, we call on all member states and stakeholders to implement ambitious, actionable commitments on universal health coverage, with primary healthcare as a foundation, and the security and health of all people as the ultimate goal. If we work together, we can achieve this ambitious goal of health for all.

-Gabriela Cuevas and Justin Koonin, Co-chairs of UHC2030 Steering Committee

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Executive Board members agree on the agenda for and resolutions to be considered by the World Health Assembly, which takes place in May. These are important milestones for all member states on the road to the UN High-level meetings on health, which will be held in September in New York during the UN General Assembly. The UN High-level meeting on universal health coverage will take place on 21 September.

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