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Stronger Policies, Investments in Primary Health Care Vital to Achieving Universal Coverage, Deputy Secretary-General Tells Ministerial Event

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s virtual remarks at the Third Annual Ministerial Meeting of the Group of Friends of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Global Health, under the theme “Investing in Health Systems Strengthening for Universal Health Coverage through a Primary Health Care-Oriented Approach”, in New York today:

I am pleased to join you virtually today for the third annual ministerial event on universal health coverage.  I would like to thank the co-chairs of the Group of Friends of UHC — Georgia, Japan and Thailand — as well as the other co-sponsors of today’s event, the World Health Organization (WHO), International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), UHC2030 and the United Nations Foundation, for keeping universal health coverage high on our agenda.

Health is the cornerstone of sustainable and equitable development.  It deserves our full attention and action.

We are exactly one year away from the 2023 United Nations High-level Meeting.  The meeting will be an opportunity to measure global progress on implementing the 2019 Political Declaration and its commitments to expand access to quality, affordable essential health services.

COVID-19 has dramatically interrupted and reversed progress, teaching us hard lessons about the consequences of neglecting and underinvesting in health systems.  In fact, 92 per cent of countries reported some extent of disruptions in at least one essential health service due to COVID-19.  At the same time, many health-related Sustainable Development Goals targets are now further off course — from maternal mortality, to communicable and non-communicable diseases, to childhood immunization.

Next year’s High-level Meeting will also be an opportunity to go beyond the status quo and strengthen health systems for the future.  This is critical for building resilience to global shocks and ensuring we are prepared for current and future pandemics.  We must never be caught so unprepared again.

Throughout all of this work, we are reminded that stronger policies and investments in primary health care are critical to recovery around the world and to achieving universal health coverage.  Ninety per cent of essential health services can be delivered through primary health care.  Investing in primary health care could increase global life expectancy by as much as 6.7 years by 2030.  It represents a practical solution to the health challenges that weigh down progress — human and economic — for all people.  It’s an investment that must be made.  Throughout, we must work as one.

Now is the time to unite national action with multilateral collaboration.  Let’s continue working together and ensure that the promises we make are translated into the strengthened governance, investment and accountability we need.

For information media. Not an official record.