I wish to thank the Permanent Missions of Singapore and Italy for co-convening this timely discussion.
COVID-19 has caused waves of morbidity and mortality. Unlike any other previous crisis, it extends far beyond the health sector. Across the world, countries are overwhelmed. They are having to deliver an immediate health response, provide essential services and mitigate socioeconomic impacts. Its devastating impacts on lives and livelihoods are likely to be felt for many years to come.
We must learn lessons from this pandemic and better prepare societies and economies for future pandemics. Providing adequate and quality financing for pandemic preparedness and response, is an essential part of the solution.
The Addis Ababa Action Agenda calls upon countries to consider setting nationally appropriate spending targets in essential public services for all – including health – that are consistent with national sustainable development strategies. It further commits to enhancing international coordination and enabling environments at all levels, to strengthen national health systems and achieve universal health coverage.
The pandemic has revealed the fragility of our public health systems, and underscored the need to strengthen them. Countries must reprioritize their public spending patterns. This can help optimize budgetary allocations on common goods for health and essential services. Increased public health spending – including on testing, tracing, and treatment capacities – can help ease the health impact of COVID-19 and other pandemics, and have a multiplier effect on the economy.
This health emergency also serves as a strong reminder that access to quality and affordable healthcare is a fundamental human right. It is important to recognise the significance of the Universal Health Coverage – ensuring the availability, accessibility and affordability of healthcare services for everyone, everywhere. We must also recognise the urgency for governments to fulfil their commitments made in the 2019 Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage.
According to World Bank and the World Health Organization, countries must increase primary healthcare spending by at least 1% of their (GDP), to close coverage gaps, and meet the health targets agreed under the SDGs.
However, the current environment of declining investments, rising debt risks and protectionism, is further constraining government capacities to fund essential public services, such as healthcare. Countries need to explore all available financing options, in order to respond to and recover from the pandemic.
The Addis Agenda – while underscoring the primary role of the public sector – also calls for greater participation and bolder action from diverse actors. Scaling up the mobilisation of resources, while a critical challenge, also represents an opportunity. Especially for private enterprise, including in research and development of therapeutics and vaccines.
We must use the resources effectively, in the right place, and in the right way. Financing pandemic preparedness and response requires a multi-sectoral approach and comprehensive interventions. Particular attention must be paid to the:
- local capacity development and
- health system strengthening in the most vulnerable countries.
The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the interdependence of countries across the world. While countries have various levels of exposure and resilience, no one is fully shielded from the crisis. The international community must work together. By doing so it can eliminate financial barriers to access, and ensure equitable distribution of diagnostics, vaccines and other health services, while strengthening the health systems of the most vulnerable countries.
The G20 deliberations – including the work of the G20 High-level Independent Panel – serve as an important contribution to strengthen global pandemic preparedness and response, with WHO at the center.
Ultimately, financing pandemic preparedness and response is an issue of global public goods. The views of the broader UN membership are an integral part of the development of global policies. I welcome the G20’s outreach to the United Nations. And I look forward to further engagements with the G20 in the lead up to the joint Health and Finance Ministers meeting, and the G20 Summit later this year.
I thank you.