Opening Remarks by Mr. Katsuhiko Takahashi, Minister, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations at a UN event on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) co-organized by the Permanent Missions of Japan, France and Thailand to the UN, in collaboration with WHO and World Bank Group
11 June 2014
I thank all of you for participating at today’s event from early in the morning. This is the second advocacy event on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) which we have co-organized with the Permanent Mission of France, and we are pleased to be joined by the Permanent Mission of Thailand as a co-sponsor from this time.
We face many challenges including the increasing burden of disease, the diversification of health needs, and inequality of access to health services. Recalling the UNGA Resolution of 2012 on Global Health and Foreign Policy, we believe that Universal Health Coverage is an important component in combating these challenges, and will lead to a transformative shift toward sustainable development and the eradication of poverty beyond 2015.
Universal Health Coverage means ensuring that all people have access to the essential health services they need without suffering financial hardship. By this definition, UHC aims to eliminate disparities in access to quality and effective health services, including health promotion, and disease prevention and treatment, to the entire population, particularly to the most vulnerable and marginalized people.
Universal Health Coverage would contribute to economic growth in addition to people’s health and well-being. The recent Lancet Commission on Investing in Health shows that improvements in health may account for as much as 24% of economic growth in low- and middle-income countries. For example, Japan was able to achieve rapid economic growth supported in part by its healthy and highly educated population, and promptly recovered its status as an economic power in the world in the post-war period. Japan’s prosperity today could not have been realized without the good health of its people. Japan is a showcase of the successful implementation of Universal Health Coverage.
Some may cast doubts on the feasibility of achieving Universal Health Coverage. However, many countries have achieved Universal Health Coverage even when their GDP was relatively low. For example, as it was clearly explained at our first event in April, Thailand achieved UHC three years after the Asian Financial Crisis with a per capita GNI of only USD 1,870.
Good health is a common need for all people all around the World. Japan feels obliged to promote Universal Health Coverage in the Post-2015 Development Agenda because it is affordable and achievable for all countries. We are pleased to hear lots of comments in support of UHC in the context of SDGs informal discussion yesterday. Japan is determined to support and promote this issue in cooperation with other member states, international organizations and civil society. I hope this event will be a good opportunity to arrive at a common understanding of UHC and to dispel any remaining doubts or skepticism concerning it.
Thank you very much.