One of the major events that happened at the United Nations General Assembly this year was the UN High Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC). The event was held on 23rd September 2019 in New York City and I was privileged to attend and witness this historic event. The declaration builds on SDG target 3.8 on UHC and the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) ‘triple billion goals’, which include extending UHC to one billion more people by 2023.
UHC has been talked about for many years by academics, researchers and civil society organisations with varied interpretation and implementation by different governments. This UN High Level Meeting was therefore a major achievement for UHC because the political declaration shows that UHC now has the full backing of member states.
The event was marked by approval of the Political Declaration with brief speeches from global leaders including the UN secretary general, the WHO director general, the World Bank president and others all echoing the importance of the declaration and what it means for the world and the achievement of SDGs. This was then followed by declarations by member states led by their presidents and ministers of health. As a member of the ARISE consortium, I noted that leaders from Kenya, Sierra Leone, Bangladesh and India (where ARISE works) were present and made commitments towards UHC.