Following is UN Secretary‑General António Guterres’ message for International Universal Health Coverage Day, observed on 12 December:
This past September at the United Nations, world leaders endorsed an ambitious political declaration on universal health coverage, reaffirming that health is a human right. The agreement is a significant achievement that will drive progress over the next decade on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
On this International Universal Health Coverage Day, I call on leaders to keep the promise and ensure health for all is a reality for everyone, everywhere.
While more people are accessing essential health services than ever before, far too many still miss out. It is unacceptable and unjust that half of the world’s population still lacks access to these essential services and 100 million people are driven into extreme poverty every year due to health-care costs.
A person’s health coverage should never depend on their wealth or where they may live. On our path to health for all, we must prioritize the needs of those most vulnerable and furthest behind, through increased public investment in resilient primary health-care systems, including for mental health needs. We must also recognize the increasing burden that pollution and the climate crisis place on health and health-care systems.
Universal health coverage is integral to delivering the Sustainable Development Goals, our blueprint of a better future for people and planet. On this International Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to health for all as an investment in humanity, well-being and prosperity for everyone.