Thank you Natalie and thank you Susan for hosting this very important gathering, and I’d like to join our appreciation to Fred. We are very happy to collaborate this event with Brazil, and thank you for the distinguished speakers and partners for making this event possible.
You know this is indeed a very timely event as we prepare for the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage next September. It’s one year away but still time flies so quickly. But from this perspective, this is very important because with our two important concepts, one is obviously the notion of ‘No One Left Behind’, the SDGs- I think that UHC is directly related to that. And also, Japan subscribes to the concept of human security, and again this is pretty much related to Universal Health Coverage.
So exactly almost about a year ago, world leaders including Secretary-General Guterres and the heads of UN agencies and partners, civil society all gathered in Tokyo for the UHC Forum, and at that time we agreed to extend essential health coverage to 1 billion additional people and to cut into half the number of people being pushed into extreme poverty every year by health expenses from 100 million to 50 million by the year 2023, which is the midpoint year towards 2030.
In relation to today’s theme “Investing in Health”, Prime Minister Abe, if I recall at the time of the UHC forum, committed to contributing a total of 2.9 billion US dollars towards achieving UHC worldwide. But one country alone, or even just all donors combined, cannot achieve UHC by 2030. So we all have to join forces to take concrete action towards these targets. This is why the upcoming HLM on UHC is so important to renew the collective commitment of all Member States at the highest level to ensuring health for all under the SDGs through UHC.
In this connection, it is my pleasure to announce the formation of the Group of Friends of UHC, which Fred already mentioned in the beginning. It is an informal platform for all UN Member States here in New York to build momentum towards the HLM on UHC in 2019 and towards achieving UHC by 2030. Already 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.
We will maximize every opportunity, including the G20 summit in Osaka next year in June in Japan, as well as the seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development, which we call TICAD, in Yokohama, Japan in August. Those are the very important milestones for us leading up to the HLM in UHC.
So, I trust today’s briefing will serve as a springboard toward an impactful UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting on UHC, and we look forward to the discussions with all of you.
Thank you very much.