I send my warmest greetings to this ministerial meeting and my thanks to the co-hosts.
A year ago, I warned that half the world’s people were not able to access affordable, high quality healthcare.
Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that our health systems are inadequate.
Weak health systems and unequal access to healthcare are major reasons why COVID-19 has killed one million people and infected more than 30 million around the world.
Under-investment in health is having a devastating impact on societies and economies, undermining progress on all the Sustainable Development Goals.
COVID-19 has made the need for Universal Health Coverage, outlined in the strong Political Declaration that emerged from last year’s meeting, more urgent than ever.
Achieving Universal Health Coverage is a major recommendation in our latest policy brief.
Other recommendations include strengthening public health measures; coordinating the global response to the pandemic; and protecting other health services during the pandemic, including mental health and sexual and reproductive health programmes.
We also call for funding for the groundbreaking ACT-Accelerator initiative to ensure everyone, everywhere has access to future COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatment, which should be seen as a global public good.
Universal Health Coverage is not only essential to end the pandemic. It will also drive progress across all health-related SDGs, while strengthening the primary health systems that are fundamental to tackling non-communicable diseases.
And it is the only way to prepare for future health crises we know will come.
I hope today’s meeting will build momentum for urgent action to transform policies and systems and deliver health and human security for all.