Earlier this year I wrote about Universal Health Coverage (UHC) being on the agenda for 2023 in anticipation of the United Nations High-Level Meeting on UHC. The meeting took place in New York this September during the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The resulting political declaration adopted on September 21 is entitled “Universal Health Coverage: expanding our ambition for health and well-being in a post-COVID world.”
The Political Declaration has 109 points beginning with background on past agreements and UNGA resolutions and moving into our current global context including urgent action needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The World Health Organization issued a media release on September 21 celebrating the approved declaration with its strong focus on primary health care:
“In the Political Declaration, Heads of State and world leaders committed to take key national actions, make essential investments, strengthen international cooperation and global solidarity at the highest political level to accelerate progress towards UHC by 2030, using a primary health care (PHC) approach.
For health care to be truly universal, it requires a shift from health systems designed around diseases to systems designed for people. PHC, an approach to strengthening health systems centred on people’s needs, is one of the most effective areas for investment to accelerate progress towards UHC.”
Further, as stated in the declaration , political leaders are called to recognize and act upon the health inequities that exist within and among countries. Throughout the document there is a call for greater political commitment along with global solidarity and cooperation to tackle “social, economic, environmental and other determinants of health” and to eliminate barriers to health care access. There are numerous points on Health Human Resources highlighting the need for national governments to invest in their health workforce and to attend to issues of migration.
The UHC2030 Coalition continues its excellent advocacy as well as its educational work on UHC. The Action Agenda serves as a clear framework: Action Agenda from the UHC Movement – UHC2030
See also the statement issued on September 26: Statement of the UHC2030 co-chairs on the adoption of the Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage – UHC2030
International Council of Nurses
The International Council of Nurses (ICN) was represented at the UNGA by President Dr. Pam Cipriano who gave presentations during the High-Level Meetings on Health. It was great to know that ICN brought strong global nursing expertise and presence to the deliberations. ICN had contributed to the Action Agenda as a member of UN High-Level Meeting Task Force. As Dr. Cipriano stated:
“The political declaration gives governments an opportunity to make a clearsighted and enduring change that will make a real difference by giving everyone equitable access to the health care that they need. Governments must not only make these commitments; They must follow through with the necessary investment to make these historic changes a reality that will benefit many millions of people who currently have little or no access to basic health care.”
ICN’s coverage included these media releases:
Much more will be written about the UHC movement, the SDGs and the UHC 2030 action agenda. We need to ensure that the momentum is sustained along with the renewed enthusiasm for primary health care.
By Nora Whyte – September 27, 2023
I acknowledge with respect that I live and work on the Unceded traditional territory of the K’òmoks First Nation.