The United Nations General Assembly has called on world leaders to invest in the health and wellbeing of their people by ensuring universal health coverage for all, despite the crises thrown up by the COVID-19 pandemic.
UN General Assembly President, Volkan Bozkır, made the call on Saturday, in a video message to commemorate the 2020 International Universal Health Coverage Day.
He noted that at least half of the world’s population were yet to have full coverage of essential health services, while over 800 million people spend at least 10 per cent of their household budgets to pay for health.
He implored leaders to honour commitments made in the first-ever political declaration of universal health coverage in September 2019.
“While there will be many lessons to learn, while we reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing that stands out is the fundamental need for health care for all.
“Today as we recognise the International Universal Health Coverage Day, we must acknowledge that while facing the worst pandemic, at least half of the world’s population still do not have full coverage of essential health services and over 800 million people spend at least 10 per cent of their household budgets to pay for health,” Bozkır said.
The Universal Health Coverage Day is marked annually on December 12. Though the day was unanimously endorsed by the UN in 2012, it was officially proclaimed by resolution 72/138, on December 12, 2017.
It is an annual rallying point for the growing movement for health for all and marks the United Nation’s historic and unanimous endorsement of universal health coverage in 2012.
This year’s celebration is themed, ‘Health for all: Protect Everyone’, with emphasis for world leaders to build a safer and healthier future by investing in health systems that protect everyone, despite the COVID-19 crises.
Bozkır maintained that leaders must be prepared for the future by addressing the projected shortfall of 18 million health workers by 2030 mostly in low and lower-income countries, and the fact that nine million additional nurses and midwives will be needed to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 3) on health.
“As we move into recovery from COVID-19 and learn from its impacts, it is important that countries honour their commitments in the first-ever political declaration of universal health coverage of September 2019.
“If we have learnt one thing this last year, it is how much we need these everyday heroes. It is high time the world expanded their investments in core health systems.
“Quality and affordable healthcare is the foundation for individuals to lead productive and fulfilling lives and for countries to have strong economies.
“It is time to invest in our strongest access, to invest in our people and their health and wellbeing,” he said.
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