In New York, Secretary-General Says New Health Care Model Needed for 21st Century Recognizing Health as ‘Basic Human Right, Ensuring Universal Access

14 March 2013

In New York, Secretary-General Says New Health Care Model Needed for 21st Century Recognizing Health as ‘Basic Human Right, Ensuring Universal Access

14 March 2013
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

In New York, Secretary-General Says New Health Care Model Needed for 21st Century


Recognizing Health as ‘Basic Human Right, Ensuring Universal Access


Following are UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s closing remarks, as prepared for delivery, at the Global Colloquium of University Presidents today at New York University:

It has been an honour to participate in this colloquium and to hear your thoughts on education, health and the post-2015 development agenda.

When we speak about health, we must talk about education. 

My Special Envoy for Global Education, Mr. Gordon Brown, made that point earlier today.

Education is a remedy to many ills.

When you educate a woman, and a mother in particular, you do not educate one person only — but an entire household, a family, a village and a community.

Women with higher levels of education have access to better antenatal care and medical treatment.

Their children are more likely to survive beyond the age of five and be in good health.

Education is also a “social vaccine” against preventable diseases like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

It helps to prevent new infections, promotes access to treatment, and combats stigma and discrimination.

Last but not least, education trains our doctors, nurses and scientists.

This is why I launched the Global Education First initiative in September last year.

I want education to be a political and development priority.

And I want you to partner with me.

All of you have a unique opportunity to create the changes we need for the future we want.

I would like to share a brief story.

I was born at home, in a small village in the Korean countryside.

I remember as a child asking my mother why women who were about to give birth would gaze at their simple rubber shoes, which they left at the back door as labour drew near.

My mother explained that giving birth was so risky.  The women feared for their lives.

They wondered if they would ever wear their shoes again.

Today, millions of women, especially in less developed countries, still die needlessly in childbirth due to lack of medical facilities or trained birth attendants.

You can help to ensure that every woman can step back into her shoes after giving birth.

I see five ways you can contribute.

First, you can educate the future leaders who will shape policy and catalyze action.

Challenge young minds to become agents of change, and instil in them the importance of caring for others — across borders and the divides of income and community.

Second, you can play a major role in the production and introduction of new policies, technologies and innovations that will save lives.

Third, as well as seeking new knowledge, I urge you to create up-to-date curricula that will keep up with the ever-changing global health landscape.

Fourth, I encourage you to facilitate collaboration — among universities and among disciplines.

Breaking down barriers between disciplines is especially necessary.  Global health cannot stand in isolation.

Fifth, I ask you to join the United Nations Academic Impact, a growing global alliance of more than 800 institutions of higher education and research in some 120 countries.

We cannot create sustainable change without utilizing the expertise that all of us can collectively bring to the table.

Successful partnerships have spurred a new way of doing business at the United Nations — we are seeing the positive impacts in our Every Woman, Every Child movement.

We must do all in our power to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 — because of the people it will benefit and because of the healthy start it will give to the post-2015 process.

The strength of the post-2015 agenda will rely in large part on meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

Our new agenda should continue to focus on poverty, while simultaneously integrating sustainability and links to peace, security and economic growth.

And I hope it will also recognize health as basic human right, with a commitment to equitable and quality health care.

We need a health care model for the twenty-first century that ensures universal access to services, a health care model that prevents exclusion and protects from financial risk, a health care model that will minimize needless death and disease.

Your research, your teaching and your graduates and faculty can help make this health care model a reality.

Thank you.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.