16 November 2022

A statement from UHC2030's co-chairs ahead of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) meeting in December 2022

A critical opportunity to prioritise investment in universal health coverage as essential for successful pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

As the INB convenes for its third meeting in December 2022 to discuss the zero draft of the pandemic accord, world leaders must focus on strengthening health systems that deliver for all people and countries.  Universal health coverage (UHC) and health security are two intertwined goals to protect everyone, everywhere, that we achieve through the same health system - in crisis and calm.

The objective of a pandemic accord must, as noted in the current working draft  (document A/INB/2/3) “work towards achieving strong and resilient health systems and universal health coverage, as an essential foundation for effective pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, and to adopt an equitable approach to prevention, preparedness and response activities, including to mitigate the risk that pandemics exacerbate existing inequalities in access to services.”

Furthermore, UHC as an overarching principle to promote health and well-being for all people, at all ages, everywhere, should be explicitly referenced as a critical contribution for sustainable pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. UHC is based on the principles of equity, non-discrimination and the right to health, ensuring that also the most marginalized populations are reached and covered, and no-one is left behind. Strengthening health systems through primary health care provide the foundations which underpin health service delivery, essential public health functions and emergency risk management, while empowering civil society and communities, and promoting gender equality.

Finally, as all countries committed to in the 2019 Political Declaration on UHC (A/RES/74/2, para 9/f)), world leaders must explicitly in the pandemic accord “recognize the need for health systems that are strong, resilient, functional, well-governed, responsive, accountable, integrated, community-based, people-centred and capable of quality service delivery, supported by a competent health workforce, adequate health infrastructure, enabling legislative and regulatory frameworks as well as sufficient and sustainable funding.“ Ensuring this alignment also with the upcoming 2023 High-level meeting on UHC is of critical importance.

Ahead of INB3, we call on Member States to seize this opportunity to unite UHC and health security. To do so, the treaty must recognize the necessity to work towards achieving UHC through resilient health systems with PHC as a foundation to effectively, efficiently and equitably deliver on all health programmes, including for sustainable pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

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

In December 2021, an intergovernmental negotiating body (INB) was established by the World Health Assembly (WHA) to draft and negotiate a convention, agreement or other international instrument under the Constitution of the World Health Organization to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. Following two rounds of public hearings (in April and September 2022) and four informal, focused consultations (IFCs, in September and October 2022), the current working draft (document A/INB/2/3) will be advanced into a conceptual zero draft of the accord, to be discussed at INB3 in December 2022. The INB has been requested to deliver a progress report to the 76th World Health Assembly in 2023 and submit its outcome for consideration by the 77th World Health Assembly in 2024.

Find more information on why it is important to integrate UHC in the pandemic accord and how to do so here and here.

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