The UHC Movement Political Advisory Panel provides guidance to the UHC2030 Steering Committee to strengthen political support for universal health coverage (UHC). The Political Advisors also convey UHC2030’s messages to high-level political leaders to ensure that commitment translates into concrete action in countries. 

The Political Advisors advise on opportunities to further use political processes to sustain high-level momentum and actionable commitments on UHC. The Political Advisors have no legal status or binding obligations; they act in a purely advisory role.

Download: Political Advisory Panel Terms of Reference

Ms. María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés

President of the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly (Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ecuador)

María Fernanda Espinosa is an academic, diplomat and politician with more than 30 years of professional experience in the academy, non-governmental and international organizations, and leadership positions within the Government of Ecuador. She is regarded as an expert in international affairs and the United Nations, defense and security, sustainable development, the environment, climate change, gender equality, and indigenous peoples’ rights. She has a vast experience in intergovernmental negotiations and is recognized as an international advocate of multilateralism and women’s rights and empowerment.

María Fernanda was an advisor on biodiversity and indigenous peoples’ policy and later regional director for South America of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, IUCN. Served as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Defense, Minister of Cultural and Natural Heritage and was the first female ambassador and permanent representative of Ecuador to the United Nations in New York. She was also permanent representative to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva. Most recently, served as President of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, becoming the fourth woman in history and the first from Latin America and the Caribbean to preside over this body since its foundation in 1945.

María Fernanda is recipient of numerous scholarships and acknowledgements from the Latin American Studies Association, the Ford Foundation, the Society of Woman Geographers, the Rockefeller Foundation, the German Agency for Cooperation, for her research and academic work about the Amazon, and her work in the Amazon on biodiversity, the environment and the rights of indigenous peoples.

Before beginning her political and diplomatic career, María Fernanda was Associate Professor and Researcher at the Latin American Faculty for Social Sciences, FLACSO, where she established and coordinated the Program on Socio-Environmental Studies. She has written over 30 academic articles about the Amazon region, culture, heritage, sustainable development, climate change, intellectual property, foreign policy, regional integration, defense, and security.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in applied linguistics from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador; a master’s degree in social sciences and Amazonian studies; and a postgraduate diploma in anthropology and political science from the Latin American Social Sciences Institute. She has completed advanced doctoral studies in Geography at Rutgers University.

María Fernanda Espinosa has produced several works of poetry that included an award from the National Poetry Prize of Ecuador in 1990.

Dr. Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis

Former European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety (Special Envoy for Universal Health Coverage for the European Region, WHO)

Andriukaitis was born on 9 August 1951 in Kyusyur in Siberia, where his family was deported in 1941 from Lithuania. He returned to Lithuania in 1957 together with his mother and two brothers. His father was permitted to return one year later. Andriukaitis went on to graduate from medical school in 1975 and had been a practicing surgeon, gaining specialisation in cardiovascular surgery in 1989, for more than 20 years.

He also holds a degree in History from Vilnius University acquired in 1984. From 1969 onwards the Commissioner was active in the anti-Soviet movement, while his political career began already in 1976. In 1990 Andriukaitis was elected to the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania which preceded Seimas (Lithuanian Parliament), and was a co-author and a signatory of the Independence Act of Lithuania on 11 March 1990. Vytenis Andriukaitis was also one of the co-authors of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania adopted in 1992, and one of the founders of the Lithuanian Social Democratic Party.

Andriukaitis was a Member of the Lithuanian Parliament for six terms. During that time he served as a Chairman of the Committee on European Affairs, including during the accession to the EU in 2004; as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee; as a Vice- and later President of Social Democratic Party; and as a Deputy Speaker of the Parliament. The Commissioner was also the Head of the Lithuanian delegation to the Convention on the Future of Europe. From 2012 to 2014 Vytenis Andriukaitis was a Minister for Health in the Lithuanian Government. The European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety from 2014 to 2019. From 2020 - Special Envoy of the WHO for Universal Health Coverage for the European region.

Prof. Ilona Kickbusch

Chair, International Advisory Board, Global Health Centre, Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies Geneva (Former Co-Chair of the Steering Committee, UHC2030)

Ilona Kickbusch is the Founder of the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute in Geneva and the former Co-Chair of the UHC2030 Steering Committee. Her areas of expertise include the political determinants of health, health in all policies and global health. She advises countries on their global health strategies, trains health specialists, and is involved in German G7 and G20 health activities. She publishes widely and serves on various commissions and boards. Ilona is a member of the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board and co-chairs the Lancet and Financial Times Commission on "Governing health futures 2030: Growing up in a digital world".

She has had a distinguished career with the WHO. She was a key instigator of the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion and WHO’s Healthy Cities Network and has remained a leader in this field, most recently advising on WHO’s activities related to Health in the SDGs. She was the Director of the Global Health Division at Yale University School of Public Health and responsible for the first major Fulbright Programme on global health.

Dr. Sania Nishtar

Member of the Senate of Pakistan

Dr. Sania Nishtar is a member of the Senate of Pakistan. From November 2018 to May 2022, she served as Special Assistant of the Prime Minister of Pakistan and Federal Minister, where she held the Cabinet portfolio on poverty alleviation. In this role she founded and was responsible for implementing Ehsaas, the largest social protection program in the country’s history, which reached out to 15 million households and has been internationally  acclaimed. During this time she was also the Chairperson of the Benazir Income Support Program.

Dr. Nishtar is former Chair of several multilateral initiatives including the WHO’s High-Level Commission on Non-Communicable Diseases, The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on the Future of Healthcare, U.S National Academy of Sciences Global Study on the Quality of Healthcare in LMICs, UN International Institute for Global Health’s Advisory Committee, UN Secretary General’s Independent Accountability Panel for Women’s and Children’s Health and WHO’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity. In 2017, she was Pakistan’s nominee for Director-General of the World Health Organisation and was included in the final shortlist of three.

She is the founder of the NGO Heartfile, has received many international awards for her work and is widely published.

Sania Nishtar graduated from Khyber Medical College with a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery in 1986 and was Best Graduate of the Year. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and has a Ph.D from King’s College London. King’s College London honoured her with a Doctorate in Science, Honoris Causa in 2019. In 2020 she was listed amongst BBC’s 100 most influential women, globally.

Ms. Joy Phumaphi

Executive Secretary, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (Former Co-Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Independent Accountability Panel for Every Woman, Every Child, Every Adolescent)

Ms. Joy Phumaphi co-chairs the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children and is former co-chair of the UN Secretary General’s Independent Accountability Panel for Women, Children and Adolescent Health. She is currently the Executive Secretary of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance, an alliance of 49 African Heads of State and Government. She is also co-chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH) Partner Engagement in Countries Committee.

She was a member of the UN High Level Panel on Global Response to Health Crises; and has served as a member of the UN Reference Group on Economics and as a UN Commissioner on HIV/AIDS and Governance. She served the People of Botswana as Principal Local Government Auditor and subsequently as a Member of Parliament holding portfolio responsibility in the cabinet, first for Lands and Housing, where she introduced the country’s first housing policy requiring that local authorities house all destitute citizens, and then for Health, where she introduced the first public sector universal ARV program in the developing world. She later joined the World Health Organization as the Assistant Director General for Family and Community Health and was responsible for the 2005 World Health Report, “Making Every Mother and Every Child Count”. She has also served as Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank where she oversaw a dramatic expansion of the network evaluation program. Ms. Phumaphi sits on the Board of several international organizations and is an advisor to a number of global health initiatives. She has been a key player with pioneering Health initiatives such as IFFIM, AMC and the independent expert review group for every woman every child. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and a Master’s degree in Finance and Accounting. 

Ms. Emilia Saiz

Secretary General of the United Cities and Local Governments

Emilia Saiz is a jurist by profession and has devoted its professional life to promoting the role of local governments in development as well as fostering relations between cities and their associations worldwide.

She started her journey as local government international advocate in the founding organization of UCLG, IULA in 1997.

She has led programmes dedicated to institutional capacity building and decentralized cooperation. She has actively promoted women empowerment, social inclusion and international partnerships.

She played a critical role in setting up the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments and has followed and represented local and regional governments in iconic international processes such as the Rio and Beijing + 20 as well the Climate Agreement the SDGs and Hábitat III.

She has further been deeply involved in the institutional development of United Cities and Local Governments into a network of networks.

During her work in the World Organization she has been appointed to numerous panels both in her personal and professional capacity. Her involvement in Cities Alliance, the General Alliance of Partners and the Cities Programme of the Global Compact are worth highlighting.

Her mission as Secretary General of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) started in 2018. When asked about her priorities for coming years she mentions: ensuring that the global agendas are built from local priorities and that international action of local governments is understood as an indispensable role to fulfill local needs with solidarity, justice and accountability at the centre.

Visit UCLG

Mr. Elhadj As Sy

Chair of the Board, Kofi Annan Foundation (Co-chair of the WHO/World Bank Global Pandemic Preparedness Monitoring Board)


Elhadj As Sy is the Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation Board, and Co-chair of the WHO/World Bank Global Pandemic Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB). In addition to these functions, Mr. Sy is also a Commissioner for the Global Commission on Climate Adaptation, Governor at the Wellcome Trust, and a member of the Governing Board of Interpeace as well as numerous other boards and organizations.

Mr. Sy has extensive experience in leadership roles in the humanitarian, health, environment, development sectors, and has previously served as the Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) IFRC ‐ the world’s largest humanitarian network. Prior to this appointment, he served at a senior level with UNICEF, UNAIDS, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and other agencies for more than 25 years.

Mr. Sy was UNICEF’s Director of Partnerships and Resource Development in New York. He has also served as UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa and Global Emergency Coordinator for the Horn of Africa.

From 2005 to 2008, Mr. Sy was Director, HIV/AIDS Practice with the United Nations Development Programme in New York. Before that, he worked with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria as its Africa Regional Director and later as Director of Operational Partnerships and Country Support in Geneva. Mr. Sy has also held the position of UNAIDS Representative in New York and Director of the New York Liaison Office.

From 1988 to 1997, he served as Director of Health and Development Programmes with Environment and Development Action in the Third World in Dakar, Senegal.

Mr. Sy holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts and Human Sciences from the University of Dakar. He then pursued Master’s studies in Arts and Germanistik at the University of Graz, and graduated from the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna. He was also awarded a post graduate diploma in Education from the École normale supérieure in Dakar. He speaks English, French and German and is a national of Senegal

Visit Kofi Annan Foundation 

Prof. Keizo Takemi

Member of the House of Councillors, Japan 

Keizo Takemi is a member of the House of Councillors of the Japanese parliament, or Diet, where he belongs to the Liberal Democratic Party and serves as Chair of the Special Committee on Global Health Strategy. He was a research fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health from November 2007 to June 2009. He is also a visiting professor at a number of universities around the country including Nagasaki University.

Professor Takemi has been involved with various global initiatives focusing on global health, including the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health, Global Health Workforce Alliance (GHWA), WHO Expert Working Group on R&D Financing, and the international organizing committee of the Prince Mahidol Award Conference (PMAC). In March 2016, he was appointed to the UN High Level Commission on Health Employment and Economic Growth. In 2018, he was appointed to the UHC Financing Advisory Committee for the G20 2019. In addition, he is Vice Chair of the International Oversight Board for the National Academy of Medicine’s Global Roadmap for Healthy Longevity (USA). He has also been serving as the chair of the Parliamentary Caucus on Stop TB Partnership as well as of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development (AFPPD).

Professor Takemi served in the House of Councillors from 1995 to 2007, then returned to the Diet in December 2012 and was re-elected in July 2019. During his previous tenure in the Diet, he served in the first Abe administration’s cabinet as Senior Vice Minister for Health, Labour and Welfare. He led the initiative to establish the UN Trust Fund for Human Security when he was State Secretary for Foreign Affairs in 1999 and was subsequently named by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to serve as a member of the High Level Panel on UN System-Wide Coherence in Areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and Environment. He has been a senior fellow with the Japan Center for International Exchange (JCIE) since 2007, where he is the chair of the Executive Committee of the Global Health and Human Security Program. In recognition of his contributions to the field over the past decade, he was appointed WHO Goodwill Ambassador for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in July 2019.


H.E. Mrs. Fawzia bint Abdulla Zainal

Speaker of the Council of Representatives

Mrs. Fawzia bint Abdulla Zainal has presided over the Council of Representatives since 2018 and is the first woman to hold this post in the history of the Kingdom of Bahrain through free and direct elections. She has held several senior and high-ranking roles in the Ministry of Information Affairs in the Kingdom of Bahrain and has worked as a consultant for planning and development in radio and television broadcasting. She has also made a significant contribution to the creation of the media hub for people with disabilities, which was commissioned by the United Nations Office.

Mrs. Fawzia bint Abdulla Zainal was a member of the National Committee for Childhood and took part in several initiatives aimed at enhancing child development. She was part of the task team focused on creating a national plan to advance Bahraini women in decision-making programs, and through her participation the task team was able to influence the Supreme Council for Women's Education and Training Committee.

She also served on the committee that drafted the Child Rights Law and the National Committee for Childhood and established and supervised the first kindergarten in a governmental ministry to serve the Ministry of Information employees.

Since February 2022, she has presided over the Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union. She was also a member of the Preparatory Committee for the 13th Summit of Women Speakers of Parliament and the Fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament. She has been recommended to join the Inter-Parliamentary Union's High-Level Advisory Group on Combating Terrorism and Violent Extremism by representing the Arab Parliamentary Group.

Mrs. Fawzia bint Abdulla Zainal was the First Bahraini Woman to hold the position of Head of Television Programs in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the first Vice-Chairwoman of the Arab States Broadcasting Union's Programs Subcommittee. She is also the first woman to reach the North Pole and raise the Bahrain flag.

She has been awarded a Fourth Degree State Medal.

She graduated from Al-Ahlia University with a master's degree in media and public relations and from Saint Joseph University in the Republic of Lebanon with a master's degree in education and information.


Events around the world marked UHC Day 2019.


UHC2030 Co-Chairs, the Inter-Parliamentary Union President and...