TOKYO, Japan — In 1961, Japan established universal health coverage, a remarkable achievement for a post-conflict country. Broadly accessible, affordable, quality health care has helped the residents of Japan live healthier, longer and more prosperous lives than people almost anywhere else in the world.
Yet for billions of others -- and especially for those in the developing world -- even basic health care remains out of reach. Estimates suggest that only 65 percent of the global population had access to basic health services in 2013.
Japan's upcoming G7 presidency presents a golden opportunity to remedy this shortcoming by making progress toward universal health coverage, or UHC, in every country. Since Japan established universal health coverage, it has helped take this concept global, sharing knowledge and resources, and rallying political will.
At the G8 Summit in 2008, the government proposed a comprehensive approach to health system strengthening. Japan's advocacy is a major reason that UHC is a target of the Sustainable Development Goals. And this week's conference in Tokyo on UHC in the new development era shows that the support and commitment for the movement has never been greater.