TOKYO – The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on countries on Thursday to invest more in sustainable and inclusive universal health coverage.
During the Universal Health Coverage Forum in Tokyo, which will last until Dec. 15, Guterres said that “in a globalized world, we must also build systems that can detect and respond to health crises,” which “will require more integrated health systems capable of responding effectively and equitably to the unique needs of their communities.”
Guterres, who arrived in Japan on Wednesday for a two-day visit to the Asian country, attended the international forum with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Senegalese President Macky Sall and Myanmar President Htin Kyaw.
The UN Secretary General stressed the importance of increasing investments in health coverage and pointed out that “political commitment will be critical to unlocking these investments.”
He praised the decision of the Japanese Government to offer $2.9 billion in aid for the universal health coverage program.
This decision was announced by Abe himself in the forum minutes before Guterres made his speech, in which he called the decision “inspiring.”
Out-of-pocket spending on health causes some 100 million people to fall below the poverty line every year, said the UN chief.
“There is of course no “one size fits all” solution, and each country must walk its own path toward universal health coverage,” Guterres said.
Universal health coverage, which gives people access to all necessary health services without suffering financial hardship when paying for them – is part of the sustainable development goals that the members of the United Nations have set for 2030.