Adopting Consensus Text on Universal Coverage on the initiative of France
Recognizing the intrinsic role of health in achieving international development goals, on December 12th, the General Assembly today – through the unanimous adoption of a resolution on global health and foreign policy – encouraged Governments to plan or pursue the transition towards universal access to affordable and quality health-care services. This success was made possible by cooperation between seven countries, including France.
By that text, the Assembly, calling for more attention to health as an important cross-cutting policy issue, urged Member States, civil society and international organizations to incorporate universal health coverage in the international development agenda and in the implementation of the internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals.
The Assembly also recognized that improving social protection towards universal coverage “is an investment in people that empowers them to adjust to changes in the economy and the labour market and helps support a transition to a more sustainable, inclusive and equitable economy”. As such, while planning or pursuing the transition towards universal coverage, Member States were encouraged to continue investing in health-delivery systems to increase and safeguard the range and quality of services and meet the health needs of their populations.
Further, Member States were encouraged to recognize the links between the promotion of universal health coverage and other foreign policy issues, such as the social dimension of globalization, inclusive and equitable growth and sustainable development.
Following those statements, the draft text on global health and foreign policy (A/67/L.36) was adopted without a vote.
GÉRARD ARAUD ( France) introduced the draft on global health and foreign policy (document A/67/L.36), saying that since 2007, the Foreign Policy and Global Health Initiative had aimed to strengthen the role of health and global health issues in foreign policy making. Toward that purpose, each year a relevant draft resolution addressing new issues was presented to the Assembly.
Despite progress in the area, he said, much more needed to be done to reach the Millennium Development Goals. One billion people worldwide did not have access to health care, thus undermining efforts to improve global health. In that regard, universal health coverage was a comprehensive, dynamic and inclusive goal. It helped improve access to health services for mothers and children, reproductive health services, HIV/AIDS, malaria and prevention of non-communicable diseases.
Further, he said, the strategy was cross-cutting, offering both horizontal and vertical systems that addressed multifaceted challenges. Implementing universal health coverage also contributed to equity and poverty reduction. It was estimated that approximately 100 million people would fall beneath poverty levels because of health issues. There should be access to health care without the risk of poverty. However, the resolution did not offer specific ways to address that issue since establishing a financing system depended on each country’s circumstance.
He went on to say that the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development ( Rio+20) had recognized health was a key indicator of the Millennium Goals and the three dimensions of sustainable development. The resolution contained follow-up actions for the post-2015 agenda. Noting that the resolution was the fifth such text since 2008, he urged States to incorporate health issues into their foreign policies.