Special Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Koro Bessho, Permanent Representative of Japan to the United Nations, on the establishment of the Group of Friends on Universal Health Coverage at the WHO Health Reception

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Thank you,
At the outset, as co-facilitator for the UN High-Level Meeting on the Fight against Tuberculosis, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all Member States and Observers for their commitment and spirit of flexibility to agree on a strong and positive political declaration on the fight against Tuberculosis.
Thanks to your constructive engagement, the declaration was approved unanimously by the Heads of State and Government as well as Ministers during the High-Level Meeting on the Fight against Tuberculosis convened on 26 September, and subsequently adopted by the General Assembly on 10 October.
This first ever Political Declaration on Tuberculosis includes several key commitments, including to achieve treatment target figures of 40 Million people as well as to mobilize 13 billion US dollars for Tuberculosis response and 2 billion US dollars for Research and Development. The declaration also focuses on children, vulnerable populations, gender, human rights, access to affordable medicines and incentives to Research and Development. The declaration further highlights TB’s important linkages to HIV/AIDS, antimicrobial resistance, non-communicable diseases and, most notably, Universal Health Coverage.
Building on these commitments, next September, the General Assembly will convene the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage. We must capitalize on this meeting to bring together our efforts to address communicable and non-communicable diseases and promote UHC as an umbrella that contributes to achieving the SDGs.
In this connection, it is my pleasure to announce an idea to formulate a Group of Friends of UHC as an informal platform for UN Member States to build momentum, in support of the co-facilitators, towards the HLM on UHC in 2019 and towards achieving UHC by 2030. Please refer to the concept note as distributed. It will exchange information on events and initiatives worldwide and at the UN that seek to support and advocate for achieving UHC by 2030. The Group of Friends will also serve as a forum where members can discuss how to reiterate the value of UHC as an overarching goal to promote good health and well-being for all people at all ages within the context of the UN and the 2030 Agenda. Finally, it will provide an opportunity for interested Member States to hear from relevant experts, partners and advocates on the various components necessary to achieve and sustain UHC.
The Group of Friends of UHC will be open to all Member States at the Permanent Representative (PR) and Deputy Permanent Representative (DPR) levels. It will be co-convened by the PRs of Japan, Brazil, France, Ghana, Hungary, South Africa and Thailand, which will provide logistical and administrative support for the group. Japan will initially chair the group and will closely collaborate with the UN system and other relevant partners, including the WHO.
Again, this Group is open to all Member States and the contact information is included in the concept note, so please contact us if you are interested in joining. We are planning to convene an event to celebrate the International UHC Day on December 12th, so please mark your calendar. We also welcome your ideas and suggestions.
Let us work together to build momentum towards the HLM on UHC in 2019 and towards achieving UHC by 2030.
I thank you.