On September 23, 2019, the global movement for universal health coverage (UHC) came together in New York City alongside the United Nations General Assembly for a High-level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage ↗. This meeting—and the dozens of satellite events organized during the days around it—have underscored the foundational place of UHC to the global health agenda, with representatives of UN member states adopting a political declaration ↗ recommitting themselves to our shared goals of health for all.
The Joint Learning Network for Universal Health Coverage (JLN) received special accreditation to participate in the UN High-level Meeting on UHC, as well as earlier meetings and consultations before September, enabling the network to submit a statement on behalf of our members:
Mobilizing and effectively allocating resources for health to build primary health care systems and support UHC is more than just a matter of knowing what to do—it’s also a matter of knowing how to do it.
So how can we develop this know-how? Technical assistance alone won’t get us there – we all know from experience that active engagement is better than passive learning. We must therefore also bring policy makers and technical leaders together to share what works and what doesn’t in UHC reforms, to co-produce knowledge, and to use what they have learned and the networks they have created to build stronger, more equitable, more efficient health systems in their countries.
And so the Joint Learning Network for UHC calls upon the UN High-level Meeting to recognize the importance of investment in joint learning to achieve UHC. We furthermore encourage governments in both the global North and South to support and encourage their staff and leadership—in health ministries, finance ministries, national health insurance agencies, and other UHC-related instances—to engage in global peer-to-peer learning that will yield real time benefits and create and maintain the practical skills and knowledge needed to successfully implement the UHC agenda.
Members of the JLN’s Steering Group, including Dr. Lydia Dsane-Selby and Randa Sami Hamadeh, attended UHC-related meetings in New York. The JLN’s Executive Director, Dr. Kamiar Khajavi, also participated in the High Level Meeting, the launch of the Global Action Plan ↗, and many of the UHC-focused discussions during the week.
With the political declaration on UHC now settled, the coming weeks and months will prove the true test for shared action. We hope it will be a catalyst for policymakers, activists, and investors to drive greater progress. And we believe that the JLN has a critical role to play in translating intention into action.