A firm message in favour of achieving World Health Organization’s (WHO) number 1 goal, thus the provision of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) to citizens of all countries at a global scale, was sent by world leaders yesterday, September 23, during the 74th UN General Assembly taking place in New York.
The Assembly was marked by the unanimous signing of a joint political declaration by 193 UN Heads of State, uniting their voices to support the adoption of specific plans and initiatives that would promote unhindered and free access for all citizens to quality health services, whenever and wherever they are needed.
This declaration is an essential step toward meeting the goals of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, adopted by the United Nations in 2015 and addressing the most important economic, social and environmental challenges of our time. At the same time, it is a powerful weapon in the hands of both health policy makers and patients themselves to claim the necessary healthcare without the additional financial burden they have to sustain today. Implementing such a policy is of particular importance especially in developing countries with vulnerable populations such as India, China, Bangladesh and other areas where millions of patients are pushed into extreme poverty each year due to the burdensome costs of healthcare.
It is worth noting that this joint declaration officially mentions and includes rare diseases, including thalassaemia, for the first time, in a high-level UN agreement.
TIF, having recognized the special needs of rare diseases and in collaboration with Rare Diseases International, had organized three side events on May 2019 at the 72nd World Health Assembly to help promote equal access for all patients to quality health services and to integrate rare diseases into universal health and solidarity planning of national health systems.
WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated “This declaration represents a landmark for global health and development”. “The world has 11 years left to make good on its sustainable development goals. Universal health coverage is key to ensuring that happens.”
He also added that “Universal health coverage is a political choice: today world leaders have signaled their readiness to make that choice. I congratulate them.”