25 July 2016

Achieving UHC by 2030: working together to leave no one behind

IHP+ side event at HLPF 2016

Event at UN High-Level Political Forum on Achieving Universal Health Coverage by 2030: working together to leave no one behind.

In July 2016 in New York IHP+ - in collaboration with the governments of France, Japan, Sierra Leone and Thailand - organised a side event at the HLFP 2016. 

The event emphasised the importance of universal health coverage (UHC) to provide an integrated approach to the health-related SDG targets and a focus on leaving no one behind. It also provided an opportunity to raise awareness of the transformation of IHP+ into the International Health Partnership for UHC 2030 as an effort revitalize multi-stakeholder partnership for health to be fit for purpose in the time of the SDGs. The International Health Partnership for UHC 2030 will be a platform to strengthen coordination of health systems strengthening, and to advocate and promote accountability for UHC.

H.E. Mr. Masakazu Hamachi, Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan presented Japan’s commitment to advance global health through its leadership as president of the G7. The G7 Vision for Global Health emphasized the need for a strengthened international framework to coordinate efforts toward the achievement of UHC, and expressed support for the establishment of UHC 2030 based on the principles of IHP+. Mr Hamachi said: “UHC is an ambitious target. What can we do to achieve it? The answer is a wide range of stakeholders must look to the same direction, combine their expertise and work together even more, with strong willpower.”

H.E. Ms. Mary Robinson, a member of The Elders and Former President of Ireland gave the keynote speech, explaining why UHC is the best way to achieve the wider health SDG. She said “UHC is built on foundations of equity and rights. Everyone must be covered. The burden of healthcare is particularly felt by women, children and adolescents, who have high needs for healthcare but often have least access to financial resources.” She noted the need for strong political leadership to raise domestic financing and deliver successful UHC reforms and strongly supported the International Health Partnership for UHC 2030. “It should be a vehicle for mobilising popular and political support, and for holding governments and other stakeholders accountable for their responsibilities,” said Ms Robinson. 

Dr. Olusoji Adeyi, Director of Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank presented information about the transformation process of IHP+ into the International Health Partnership for IHP+. You can see the presentation here. 

Simon Wright, Head of Child Survival at Save the Children UK spoke about the need for progressive approaches to UHC, prioritizing maternal and child health at primary care level first.  He said, We welcome UHC 2030 as we need a high-profile, powerful partnership to support countries to build UHC. We need to overcome the fragmentation that aid causes, with UHC as a government responsibility, with strong civil society holding governments to account. UHC 2030 also needs to share best practice and learning and build a movement.” 

H.E. Mr Tolbert Nyenswah, Deputy Minister of Liberia, spoke of the devastation of Ebola that exposed the weaknesses in the health system and of the opportunities now to rebuild. Yet in Liberia development assistance is still fragmented, exacerbated by the influx of partners since the Ebola crisis. He noted that Liberia sees an important role for the International Health Partnership for UHC 2030 to support coordination, harmonization and alignment of internal and external stakeholders, and to strengthen accountability for results. “We are drafting a country compact which is modeled on the IHP+ approach, to negotiate and agree the parameters for engagement with development partners and mutual responsibilities,” said Mr Nyenswah.

Mr. Natapanu Nopakun, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand gave his reflections as non-IHP+ signatory and a middle-income country (MIC) on the potential roles and contributions of MICs in driving the UHC agenda. Thailand has achieved UHC since 2002, putting itself at the global forefront and encouraging the spread of UCH policies to neighbouring countries. “MICs in Asia are the epicenter of progressive realization towards UHC. There are huge operational capacities, tacit knowledge and lessons (both positive and negative) which can be drawn upon, learned from and shared in Asia Pacific and other regions, in order to avoid repeated mistakes.” 

The event provided an opportunity to make a call for the need to adopt the right indicators to measure progress. Mary Robinson said that the indicators should include one that  “focuses on cutting the number of people suffering financial hardship.” Simon Wright from Save the Children, UK echoed this. “The problem of [financial hardship is due to the impact of high levels of] out of pocket expenditure. This is why we are so concerned about the SDG indicator 3.8.2 because it does not reflect this and needs to be changed as the current formulation is both dangerous and meaningless,” he said. 

Fabienne Bartoli from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, France  shared some final remarks and Dr. Natela Menabde, Executive Director from WHO, the moderator of this panel, closed the meeting by remarking on the energy and excitement of this new global agenda. She noted the ongoing need for more effective development cooperation as well as a broader and universal movement for UHC. She also reminded everyone to participate in the online consultation on the priorities needed to operationalize objectives for the International Health Partnership for UHC 2030.  

Watch the video from the Elders, who believe that UHC is an ‘affordable’ dream.

Other News