A statement from UHC2030's co-chairs ahead of the...
From UHC2030 Co-Chairs Ms. Gabriela Cuevas Barron and Dr. Justin Koonin ahead of the World Health Summit 2022
From 16-18 October, 2022, over 5,000 participants will gather at the World Health Summit (WHS) in Berlin, Germany. Heads of state, ministers, heads of international agencies, representatives of the G7 and the G20, the European Union, and the African Union – as well as civil society leaders and the private sector, will meet to discuss “Making the Choice for Health.” This year’s WHS is co-hosted together with WHO and will take place during Germany’s G7 Presidency.
As Co-Chairs of UHC2030, a global movement with a mission to accelerate progress toward universal health coverage (UHC) through strengthening health systems, we believe that WHS is taking place during a pivotal time. We call for the global health community to come together to ensure that health does not fall off the political and financial agenda. We will only reclaim and sustain progress on SDG3 health goals if we work collectively to build and strengthen equitable, resilient health systems that deliver for all people. As the global community is also mobilized to prevent, prepare and respond to future health threats, it is important that measures to strengthen the global architecture for health security are coherent with efforts toward health for all.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has shown that robust health systems based on primary health care have been critically important for rapid preparedness and response measures by delivering integrated services. On the one hand, epidemiological surveillance that leads to the detection of outbreaks has depended on sufficient lab capacity and health workers at national and sub-national levels. On the other, as outbreaks have occurred, resilient and sustainably financed health systems have ensured that routine health services, such as basic immunization, mental health services, or sexual and reproductive health services have not suffered.
However, during the pandemic, many countries were forced to make stark choices. Following years of underinvestment in health systems, many countries had to scale back basic health services further to fund health security measures. A parallel pivot was seen in global health assistance, as donors, private funders, and global funds shifted their focus and funds to address the pandemic.
Underinvestment and a deprioritization of health systems have come at a heavy price, especially for vulnerable communities, high-risk persons including those with underlying health conditions such as non-communicable diseases (NCDs), and population groups such as women, children, and adolescents and people on the move. An important debate yet inadequate action on equity within and across countries has ensued. The importance of involving civil society and communities in decision-making has also become more critical than ever: responding to people’s needs and securing trust in public health measures require their say in shaping decisions and actions about their health and well-being.
We believe that now is the time for the global health community to rally behind a sustainable, all-of-government and all-of-society approach to health, which integrates health security and UHC, and also takes into account determinants such as climate change. With the upcoming High-Level Meetings on UHC, TB, and pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, which will take place during the UN General Assembly in September 2023, we have an opportunity to work together coherently, ensuring that our work and decisions are inclusive and engage civil society and communities as well as the private sector. We have a pivotal opportunity to make the case for and deliver concrete actions to deliver health for all.
As UHC2030 Co-Chairs, we look forward to discussions at the World Health Summit in Berlin. As a global, growing movement, we will continue to work collectively with all partners and stakeholders to build equitable, resilient health systems that protect all people and keep them healthy in calm and crisis.