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The high-level side-event on 23 May 2018 at the World Health Assembly was a great demonstration on how several countries have been ‘walking the talk' on the global movement towards UHC and how UHC2030 can support collaborative working at global and country levels on health systems strengthening.
The event was hosted by the government of Indonesia and co-sponsored by Mexico, Turkey, Republic of Korea, Australia (MIKTA), Ghana and the Maldives and organized in close cooperation with UHC2030.
Dr. Anung Sugihantono, Deputy Minister of Health of the Republic of Indonesia gave a welcome speech saying, “This event is a response to Dr. Tedros call to join the Global Challenge on UHC” and recognizing the importance of signing of the UHC2030 Global Compact. “This is a commitment of countries towards progressing into UHC and we all today are witnessing this as more and more countries become signatories of the UHC2030 Global Compact, contributing to a holistic approach to ensure UHC for the global population by 2030.”
Honorable Kwaku Agyeman, Minister of Health, Ghana delivered the key note speech pointing out Ghana’s commitment to achieve UHC. “To achieve UHC, innovation, creativity and political will are key. Ghana has declared the commitment towards UHC through accountability and knowledge sharing, and we fully align our policies with principles such as equity, access and financial protection, that’s why we are here to sign the UHC2030 Global Compact.”
New signatories to the UHC2030 Global Compact
Ghana, Iran, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Management Sciences for Health, International Federation of Medical Students’ Association, Women in Global Health, Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance all signed the UHC2030 Global Compact during the event.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed countries and organisations that signed the UHC2030 Global Compact. “This is demonstrating a commitment to connect actions for driving progress. It’s time for a transformative change in the way forward. We need to join hands with all partners who share vision of working together in accelerating progress towards UHC and stronger health systems. Having a shared vision strengthens the transformative part of our movement. Partnerships like UHC2030 provide useful space to collaborate, learn and exchange information,” he said.
“Health for all is a vital promise that we must deliver on. By signing this global compact and joining UHC2030 we commit to accompany you on this journey to deliver health for all together and hold each other accountable,” said Mr. Elhadj As Sy, Secretary General for International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi, the Minister of Health and Medical Education of Iran signed the UHC2030 Global Compact two days previously and said, “We remain strongly committed to universal health coverage”.
Marian Wentworth, President and CEO of MSH which is currently hosting the Secretariat of the UHC2030 Civil Society Mechanism spoke on behalf of the CSOs: “UHC2030 provides a central place for global policy, accountability, advocacy and it has great potential to link with other networks to generate and share knowledge. Moves towards UHC are often lead by national governments but progress will be slow without the civil society which plays a critical role to ensure that resources are people centered and provided in an equitable way.”
Batool Alwahdani, Vice President for External Affairs at the International Federation of Medical Students’ Association said, “UHC is about leaving no one behind. Given the ageing of the population everyone can become poor and face burdens in accessing healthcare services. As youth and the younger generation we are committed to play a hand in hand active role starting from now, to be the voice of youth in this global momentum and be your guarantee for a better future.”
Ann Keeling Board Member of Women in Global Health acknowledged the important role of women in delivering health care: “Together these can drive gender equality, economic growth and health for all. Women will deliver UHC if we enable to do so and that’s a win for all,” she said.
Dr. Stephen R. Connor, Executive Director, Worldwide Hospice Palliative Care Alliance raised the issue of palliative care as a very neglected area, and committed to help UHC2030 bridge this gap and raise the profile of palliative care as part of UHC.
MSH also spoke on behalf of other CSOs which recently joined UHC2030, including Health Enabled (South Africa), Outreach Scout Foundation (Malawi), Positive Generation (Cameroon), Community Family and Aid Foundation (Ghana).
Panel discussion: focused actions on primary health care and financing for effective delivery
The objective of the panel, chaired by Dr Naoko Yamamoto, Assistant Director General, UHC and Health Systems, WHO was to highlight what commitments are driving progress towards UHC, on the basis of experience in countries like Indonesia, Korea, Australia and the role of civil society.
In January 2014, Indonesia introduced a new national health insurance programme to move the country towards UHC. Professor Akmal Taher, Special Advisor for the Minister of Health in Indonesia, presented the programme and their concrete actions in strengthening Primary Health Care as the foundation of a successful health system and for achieving UHC. “Through this scheme we’re trying to make healthcare not only accessible but affordable, qualitative and sustainable. Primary health care is the key for the sustainability of UHC”, he said.
Beginning with the introduction of the National Health Insurance Scheme in 1977, Korea implemented measures that led to a rapid expansion of population coverage and the achievement of UHC in only twelve years. “Economic growth but also the presence of a strong civil society supported the achievement of this success. However, UHC is a continuous process. In order to tackle high out-of-pocket expenditures and protect the poor from catastrophic health expenditures, Korea is planning to launch a programme in expanding coverage to 70% by 2022. We hope that Korea’s experiences could serve as a lesson to other countries in their way to achieving UHC,” said Mr. Yoon Taeho, Director-General for Public Health Policy, Ministry of Health and Welfare in Korea.
Ms. Renee Deschamps, Assistant Secretary in the Health Policy Branch at the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, argued on the synergies between strengthening health systems, health security and universal health coverage. During her presentation, she emphasized the importance that Australia puts in developing health systems that support health security. “Australia’s approach is not disease specific but underpinned by UHC. Having a strong health security system enables to prevent, detect and respond to existing and emerging infectious diseases which is critical for progressing towards UHC,” she said.
Dr. Githinji Gitahi, Global CEO and Director General of AMREF Health Africa and UHC2030 co-chair, emphasized the importance of building trust between the government and the people. “Trust is the currency for the people participation in the challenge of UHC. For us as a civil society, we see ourselves as a wheel to connect trust between people and government. Partnerships like UHC2030 will help creating the political comfort and reinforce that comfort in making governments invest in institutionalization of citizen participation,” he said. Dr Gitahi saluted all the new members of UHC2030 and welcomed them in this movement that recognizes health as a human right.
Finally Dr. Agnes Soucat, Director for Health Systems Governance and Financing, WHO launched the UHC portal, a new WHO user friendly platform which aggregates different databases and links them to results.