(Check against delivery)Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to express my deep appreciations to the champions of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) gathered here today as we commemorate International UHC Day.
Here in New York, we have tackled a series of health challenges that deserve attention from Heads of State, namely, HIV/AIDS, Non-communicable Diseases, Anti-Microbial Resistance and, most recently, Tuberculosis, for which I had the privilege to facilitate a High Level meeting together with my dear colleague Ambassador Aubrey Webson of Antigua and Barbuda.
And yet, 3.5 billion people, half of the world’s population, still lack access to essential health services, and 100 million are pushed into extreme poverty every year because of health care costs. As we convene the High-Level Meeting on UHC next year, we must bring together all our efforts to ensuring UHC as a fundamental enabler for achieving the SDGs.
This evening, it is my pleasure to announce the formation of the Group of Friends of UHC as an informal platform for all UN Member States here in New York. The purpose of the Group is to build momentum, in support of the newly reappointed co-facilitators here with us today, towards the High-Level Meeting on UHC in 2019. We would work further towards achieving UHC by 2030. Some 30 Member States including many Missions here today have already joined, but please refer to the concept note and let us know if you are interested in joining.
We intend to convene briefings and consultation through the Group. The first such briefing is planned tomorrow morning with colleagues from Geneva at 8:30am in Conference Room 11. It is bit early in the morning, so I encourage you to drink responsibly tonight.
Japan will maximize every opportunity, including the G20 summit in Osaka in June, as well as the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD, in Yokohama in August leading to the High-Level Meeting on UHC.
Let us work together to live up to the commitment of leaving no one behind through ensuring UHC.
I thank you.