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Published in: 10/04/2019

Universal coverage race at ‘starting line’, with new momentum: UN health agency

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Rafaela de Oliveira

The race to provide Universal Health Coverage can now get underway, said the World Health Organization (WHO) on september 24, as nations take to the “starting line” following the most “comprehensive international health agreement in history”- the landmark pledge to improve global health declared by the UN just 24 hours earlier. 

In the wake of 23’s universal health commitmentsWHO chief Tedros Adhammom Ghebryesus said the document would serve as “a new milestone in our journey towards a healthier, safer and fairer world”, dovetailing with the launch of the agency’s own pledge to boost healthier living. “World leaders have unified around a shared vision of the world we want”, he conclued. 

"The international health community is doing the same”, introducing the WHO Global Action Plan for health. Speaking to health champions at the UN’s Trusteeship Council Chamber in New York, Mr. Ghebryesus said that the “historic commitment”, will serve as a platform to help countries get back on track when it comes to health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the subject of conversation during the UN’s high level summit on the blueprint.  

The commitment, coordinated by WHO, unites the work of 12 health organizations and serves as a framework for how the world can speed up action towards achieving Universal Health Coverage. “Our shared vision is to deliver a measurable impact in the lives of the people we serve, and our shared commitment is to align, accelerate, account and engage…” he said, highlighting the plan’s pillars for implementation.

Key Strategies

  • Align and coordinate work better to reduce inefficiencies;
  • Accelerate efforts that can significantly speed up progress in global health;
  • Accountability: Create a common framework for assessing results and critical checkpoints.

Align, Accelerate, Account

The partner organizations, which include UN Women, UN AIDS, and the World Bank Group, have agreed to develop common approaches and coordinated action by way of three key strategies: align, accelerate, account. With nearly 50 health-related targets across 14 SDG’s, the organizations have set forth these milestones as a reference to determine where the world stands in relation to human health come 2023, which will serve as a midterm review, on the road to 2030.

Phase one of the plan kicked off in October of last year, in Berlin, following requests by German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of Ghana, and Prime Minister Erna Solberg of Norway, for concrete steps toward universal health, supported by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

With the plan’s launch marking the second step, with full implementation yet to come, Mr. Ghebreysus stressed that today “is not the finish line, it’s the starting line to deepen our engagement with countries and with each other.” “We all have unique mandates and unique strengths,” he said, addressing partner organizations, “this is a historic initiative to leverage our strengths.”

Photos/Ilustrations: 

Kim Haughton

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