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13 June 2017

World Health Assembly high-level side event

Partnership matters: Achieving Stronger Systems for Health in Practice

The energy and enthusiasm in the room for the movement to build stronger health systems for universal health coverage was palpable during the World Health Assembly high-level side-event on 24 May 2017. 

It was a packed room and a rich agenda, with a key note speech from South Africa, eight signatories to the new UHC2030 global compact, the launch of 'Healthy systems for universal health coverage - a joint vision for healthy lives', and reflections on health systems strengthening from Ghana, Zimbabwe and Estonia. 

The event was jointly hosted by China, Estonia, France, Germany, Ghana, Japan, Myanmar, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Zambia and Zimbabwe, supported by the European Union and organized in close cooperation with UHC2030, P4H, the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Bank Group and the World Health Organization. 

Ambassador Dr. Ulrich Seidenberger, Chargé d’affaires, Permanent Mission of Germany welcomed everyone to the event and said: “This impressive list of co-sponsors underlines the importance member states and organizations attach to improving coordination for health system strengthening and universal health coverage.”

Keynote speech

Precious Matsoso, Director General, National Department of Health of South Africa delivered the key note speech on behalf of Honorable Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health, South Africa. She spoke about UHC2030 as an opportunity to strengthen multi-stakeholder policy dialogue and coordination on health systems strengthening. “It is our considered view that for us to achieve UHC in South Africa we require partnerships. Working in partnership really matters,” she said.

Signatories to the UHC2030 global compact

Chile, Indonesia, Thailand, South Africa, OECD, Rockefeller Foundation, United Nations Foundation and CSOs all signed the new UHC2030 global compact during the meeting. “By signing the global compact, we want to show a strong commitment and contribution to making UHC a global achievement,” said Stefano Scarpetta, Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs at the OECD

Achieving UHC has become a global commitment, hence the growing interest to work together with other countries and international development partners for this particular development agenda,” said Prof. Dr. Nila F. Moeloek, Minister of Health of the Republic of Indonesia.

“I emphasize that only country capacities on UHC can allow us to come back and celebrate the success of UHC in 2030. It must be the primary goal of UHC2030 and all partners to invest in strengthening countries capacity to practically support UHC. Now it is the time to seriously make UHC a reality at country level,” said Honorable Prof. Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, Minister of Public Health, Thailand. 

Kate Dodson, Vice-President of UN Foundation said, We believe the pact towards UHC is the best way to achieve the health-related sustainable development goals, the focus on equity, access, rights and social protection is paramount to principles of leaving no one behind. We’re pleased to be signatories to this compact and particularly to support the secretariat of UHC2030.” She also read a statement on behalf of the Rockefeller Foundation “The Rockefeller Foundation looks forward to working with UHC2030 and fellow signatories to realise the shared vision of health for all.” 

Valerie Sorgho, National Advocacy and Campaign Manager, from Save the Children in Burkina Faso spoke on behalf of the UHC2030 Civil Society Coordination Mechanism and welcomed the global compact, which was signed by two CSOs. 

Following the signing of the global compact, Dr. Margaret Chan made a surprise appearance and spoke passionately about the urgent need for universal health coverage. “For WHO, UHC is the way to make sure no one is left behind, it is all about equity, it is all about fairness, it is all about social justice. You, me, anybody should not be denied access to care because they cannot afford it, because they are a woman, because they have to sell their cow, their house to pay for health care,” she said.

Healthy systems for UHC – a joint vision for healthy lives

Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, Assistant Director-General for Health Systems and Innovation at WHO and Dr. Tim Evans, Senior Director of Health, Nutrition & Population Global Practice at the World Bank Group launched this new publication. The UHC2030 joint vision paper is the result of broad consultations and represents how UHC2030 can meaningfully facilitate joint leadership and joint learning around health systems strengthening for UHC. 

“We all recognize there is no need for ‘one size fits all’, but we also recognize that while UHC is a journey for each country, we need some principles to guide us through and this is in the global compact and the joint vision paper. The paper will serve in the future as a key reference document for UHC2030 for full collaboration on health systems strengthening,” said Dr. Kieny. 

“We do much better when we put our minds together, as none of us alone could have achieved this joint vision paper. We look forward to further collaboration,” said Dr. Evans.

Panel discussion: service delivery, finance, governance

The theme of the panel discussion was about bringing the vision of UHC to life and achieving stronger systems for health in practice through service delivery, finance and governance. 

Focus on service delivery 

Honorable Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, Minister of Health, Zambia spoke about service delivery sitting at the very core of health systems. He spoke about the many requirements to deliver health services, including working with a range of stakeholders. “We need a multi-sectoral approach. It is important to coordinate with other players who manage social determinants of health in order to make our population healthy: education, agriculture, nutrition infrastructure, all these must be addressed. The Ministry of Health must provide stewardship to coordinate coherently,” he said.  

Focus on health financing 

Honorable Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, Minister of Health, Ghana spoke about Ghana’s experience of introducing health insurance. Ghana introduced health insurance with a law passed in 2003. However 100% coverage has not yet been achieved despite many efforts. “We continue to invest and the new government is committed to UHC. The government has started scaling up investments in health. The challenge is that health insurance is not very easy to introduce. You need committed governments who will roll out investments in that area. We are looking for innovative ways of thinking to find out how we can best finance our health insurance funds,” he said.   

Focus on governance 

Ambassador Andre Pung, Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Estonia, announced that Estonia is ready to join UHC2030. Resilient health systems are the foundation of health security, as shown by past and recent epidemics and outbreaks. Health systems also require strong national leadership and ownership. “Working in partnership creates an environment for better coordination and alignment but it is most effective when guided by joint vision and mechanisms to facilitate the change and joint planning,” he said.  

International perspectives

Dr. Christoph Benn, Director of External Relations, Global Fund said that the Global Fund strongly welcomes UHC2030 and pledges its full support. The Global Fund will support countries through investment in the three diseases – AIDS, TB and malaria - which helps move towards UHC, and investments in health systems themselves. “It will be key to combine domestic and international resources in a way that incentivizes maximum resources from domestic funding and combine that with national and international innovative financing mechanisms and strong involvement of the private sector. Coordination will be key,” he said.  

Dr Taraneh Shojaei, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, France showed a short film to introduce the new P4H portal for health system initiatives as part of UHC2030 movement. 

Finally, Dr Naoko Yamamoto from Japan, announced the UHC Forum 2017 in Tokyo. Read the flyer for the forum

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