Photo credit: ncdalliance
It has been an exciting ten days for the world of UHC. The 70th World Health Assembly (#WHA2017) kicked off with the announcement of the new World Health Organization (WHO) Director General (DG), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who was the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Health of Ethiopia. The now first African DG was nominated by member states winning the most votes from 186 member states.
Promising to prioritize universal health coverage (UHC), Tedros said in his speech at the WHA, “Universal Health Coverage should be the center of gravity in our activities. Universal Health Coverage means as you know it — quality diagnosis and care, ensuring access to quality drugs and addressing the financial barriers to health.”
The WHA meets yearly in Geneva, Switzerland, to hold committee and plenary sessions attended by delegations from WHO’s 194 member states to review the past year, future goals and priorities for the upcoming year. The themes in focus for this year included:
- Medicines and health products
- Noncommunicable diseases
- Emergencies preparedness, response
- Poliomyelitis (polio)
- Antimicrobial resistance
- Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health.
Takeaways on UHC from WHA 2017
A technical briefing, “Universal Health Coverage: Sustained commitment and concrete achievements” was hosted by the WHO, The Elders, the World Bank Group and the UN Foundation. For the first time ever, the panel comprised past, current and the incoming WHO DG’s, who shared their common vision for UHC.
Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO Assistant DG for Health Systems and Innovation, noted UHC is a realistic goal for all countries irrespective of their economic status.
Countries such as China, Chile, Greece and Côte d'Ivoire shared the strategies and policies they are implementing for UHC. The discussions led to five key takeaways:
In addition, several technical side events were held May 19-30. The following are some highlights of events held by UHC2030 partners and associate networks:
“Innovative Financing, Transforming Governance: What does it mean for countries and organizations?” The discussions, held Tuesday May 23, focused around new approaches and mechanisms to sustainably finance health systems, a common concern for JLN country members which has been addressed through joint learning in the past.
“What is the role of the Private Sector in helping to achieve Universal Health Coverage” The session covered the role of the private sector in helping to achieve UHC. Also an area of interest for the JLN community, its country members have shared real world examples and co-developed step by step guidance on this topic.
For full list of UHC2030 side meetings at the 70th WHA, click here.