Universal Health Coverage will ‘drive progress’ on 2030 Development Agenda

OCHA/Giles Clarke An aid worker from the UN refugee agency attends to a baby at a UN-supported health center in the northern region of Burkina Faso.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


Last September world leaders at the United Nations endorsed an ambitious political declaration on universal health coverage, “reaffirming that health is a human right”, Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday in his message for International Universal Health Coverage Day.

He called the agreement “a significant achievement that will drive progress over the next decade on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and asked leaders to “keep the promise and ensure health for all is a reality for everyone, everywhere”.

While more people than ever before are accessing essential health services, far too many are still missing out. Coinciding with the Day, the UN is joining an international coalition calling on world leaders to “Keep the Promise” made at the end of September’s High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage, one of the major summits held during the opening of this year’s General Assembly.

Universal health coverage requires

  • A strong, efficient, well-run health system.
  • A system for financing health services.
  • Access to essential medicines and technologies.
  • A sufficient capacity of well-trained, motivated health workers.

“It is unacceptable and unjust that half of the world’s population still lacks access to these essential services and 100 million people are driven into extreme poverty every year due to healthcare costs”, the UN chief argued.

Health coverage should never depend upon wealth or location.

On the path to health for all, Mr. Guterres highlighted the importance of prioritizing “the needs of those most vulnerable and furthest behind, through increased public investment in resilient primary health care systems, including for mental health needs”.

He also stressed the need to recognize the increasing burden that pollution and the climate crisis place on health and healthcare systems.

“Universal health coverage is integral to delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), our blueprint of a better future for people and planet”, he spelled out

It aims to ensure that all people obtain the health services they need without suffering financial hardship when paying for them.

“On this International Day, let us reaffirm our commitment to health for all as an investment in humanity, wellbeing and prosperity for everyone”, concluded the Secretary-General.

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