Welcome remarks by H.E. Ambassador Koro Bessho, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, Chair of the Group of Friends of Universal Health Coverage and Global Health, at an Informal Briefing in preparation for the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage

(As delivered)

We are now joined by the President of the General Assembly. We’ll begin in just a few minutes but I’ll just explain the order of events today.
After I open the meeting, with a few words I would like to ask the President of the General Assembly for an opening remarks, and then I will ask one of the Co-facilitators, the Permanent Representative of Thailand to say a few words on behalf of the Co-facilitators, then I will ask the WHO to brief us on where we are on this development towards achieving UHC. After that we’ll open the floor. I just wanted to mention that since we are having the Commission for Social Development at this moment in the UN Headquarters, we have made this open to Civil Society who are taking part in this commission, and we have also made it open to the media as well.
So with that, I would just like to say a few words to open the meeting and then immediately ask PGA to say a few words.
I will not make a long speech because all of you are here because you are interested in UHC, I don’t need to explain to you what that is, but it is very important we think that the PGA has chosen to convene a High-Level Meeting on UHC during the High-level week. We have been happy about having a series of High Level Meetings on health issues, concerning HIV and AIDs, NCDs and AMR, and most recently Tuberculosis. And all these add up to and will be culminated in the High-Level Meeting on UHC this autumn. And in order to assist the process, we have set up this Group of Friends, and we are very happy that today we are having this first substantive meeting. We did kick it off in December with only a handful of members, but now we have about 40 members, and we are very happy about that rapid increase.
We also welcome many Member States who have not joined formally yet but who have shown interest by coming here today. So, we are hoping that this move will continue to grow. And we would like to have a series of meetings like this, receiving input from WHO and other stakeholders in order to, first of all of course, raising awareness concerning UHC, but in the short term, to try to help assist the co-facilitators for the High-Level Meeting of UHC this fall, so that we can have a very strong and useful outcome from the UHC High-Level Meeting, and in the more longer term to achieve the UHC by 2030.
So without further ado, I would like to ask the President of the General Assembly to say a few words and we are very grateful that you have taken the time to come.