New York

26 September 2018

Deputy Secretary-General's remarks at the event: “Universal health coverage Leaves No One Behind: working together towards good health and well-being for all” [as prepared for delivery]

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I thank this evening’s co-organizers and commend the Governments of Thailand and Japan for their leadership as co-hosts of this event.
 
I am happy to see so many perspectives across the health sector represented in the room tonight.
 
This week will see several discussions on critical health issues, including High-Level Meetings of the General Assembly on tuberculosis and non-communicable diseases.
 
While each is important in its own right, we know that these issues do not exist in a vacuum and must be part of larger efforts to deliver health more comprehensively.
 
I appreciate the efforts of UHC2030 to unite us this evening under our common vision for universal health coverage by 2030.
 
The moment is propitious as this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Alma Ata Declaration, which set out a goal of achieving health for all.
 
Next month, the world will reunite in Astana, Kazakhstan, and recommit to strengthening primary health care to achieve universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals.
 
Next September’s High-level Meeting of the General Assembly on Universal Health Coverage will be a further milestone in fostering the highest level of political commitment to drive action for health and well-being by 2030.
 
Health is both an outcome and a driver of progress. It is at the centre of our vision of a more sustainable, inclusive, peaceful and prosperous future.
 
However, gross inequities continue to leave the most vulnerable behind.
 
For too many, health is inaccessible, unaffordable or altogether unavailable.
 
Out-of-pocket spending on health remains high, causing an estimated 100 million people to fall below the poverty line every year. 
 
Our historic number of young people also require tailored services that address their unique needs.
 
Universal Health Coverage provides the necessary umbrella and foundation to help close these gaps.
 
Our goal must be to prevent, protect and promote physical and mental well-being for all. Moreover, we should no longer treat the latter as an afterthought.

Women and girls are central to universal health coverage. We must prioritize them to overcome the gender gaps that continue to keep health care out of their reach and we must see more women leading global health institutions.

Delivering a robust system will rejuvenate healthcare workers both able to provide facility-based care for those who can access but also outreach to those who are furthest to reach.

In the face of rapid urbanization, increasing levels of conflict, evolving pathogens that threaten resistance to antimicrobials, and the impacts of climate change, bold and creative partnerships across sectors are needed to address the social, economic and environmental determinants of health.
 
Better alignment of the historically fragmented global health space – including the various financing mechanisms – will also be crucial.
 
For too long, we have acted as though disease and illness exist in silos.
 
But a new sustainable development era – with its many complex challenges – requires new ways of thinking and working together.
 
We must leverage the power of the many health partners to help strengthen systems so they can respond to the needs of their communities.
 
With each vaccine delivered to a child in a rural village, each new case of tuberculosis accurately detected and reported, and each infectious outbreak averted, we are building the foundations for the sophisticated systems needed for healthy societies.
 
Greater international coordination will be critical.
 
I commend the work that has just started on a Global Action Plan for Healthy Living and Well-being for All, which aims to ensure more effective and efficient use of resources and stronger, coherent support to countries in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 3.
 
This very idea is an important element of the Secretary-General’s efforts to reposition the UN Development System.  With those reforms now endorsed by Member States, I look forward to seeing this action plan take shape.
 
There is, of course, no “one size fits all” solution, and each country must walk its own path toward universal health coverage.
 
Political commitment will be paramount, while civil society must continue to hold leaders to account.
 
The UN System stands firmly with you, ready to support our collective journey to UHC.
 
Let us unite – boldly and quickly – behind our vision of UHC, to ensure health for all.
 
Thank you.