Statement by Mr. Jun YAMAZAKI
Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Japan to United Nations
Plenary meeting of the 67th Session of the General Assembly
Agenda Item 123: Global Health and Foreign Policy
12 December 2012
It gives me great pleasure to briefly state my Government's position on global health issues, including universal health coverage, on the occasion of the adoption of the resolution "Global Health and Foreign Policy."
Health plays a crucial role in economic and social development. We appreciate that this resolution encourages universal health coverage in an inclusive and fiscally sustainable manner.
Many societies in the world are rapidly ageing. As the population gets older, burden on aged people, their families and their societies is expected to increase rapidly because of the rise in the number of aged people with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and mental disorders.
Japan is experiencing the ageing society ahead of others around the world. In order to prepare for this unprecedented situation, Japan introduced various measures such as long-term care insurance and comprehensive health promotion measures in cooperation with relevant entities. Thanks to these efforts, Japan has been able to attain high marks for its population with increasing good health that includes long life expectancies.
One of the factors that have contributed to this success in Japan is the fact that we were able to attain universal health coverage. That situation was brought about 50 years ago by establishing a public health insurance system for the whole nation. The following three characteristics of our experience with the system should be pointed out. First, all people can access high-quality medical services regardless of their occupation or income. Second, patients can go to whichever medical institution they wish to visit with same price. And finally, we have managed to control the total medical expenses.
Japan is proud to be able to provide such access to medical services for the entire nation. In order to share this experience with other countries, Japan has collaborated with the World Bank on research on the methods for financing health insurance for universal coverage. We look forward to sharing the results of this research with all Member States and other interested parties in the near future.
Although only two years are left between now and the target date of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), challenges remain on issues such as maternal health and water sanitation. These areas require more effort on our part in order to attain the MDGs. We believe that universal health coverage would be crucial to achieving the MDGs. In order for a whole nation to access adequate and high-quality medical services, it would be indispensable to strengthen a sustainable health system for that nation. My delegation has mentioned this point on various occasions.
Furthermore, the Government of Japan believes that universal access to simple and effective health intervention such as vaccination is also important for global health. At this moment, the challenge for polio-eradication is at an important phase. Japan will continue to support efforts that will bring results in the field of polio-eradication.
Finally, my delegation is aware that the value of health has been increasing in modern-day society, where situations change quite rapidly. In this regard, it is useful to tackle health issues from the viewpoint of “human security,” which calls for people-centered, comprehensive, context-specific and prevention-oriented responses that strengthen the protection and empowerment of all people and all communities.
The world continues to face many challenges in the field of global health and thus requires global cooperation. In this regard, it is important that we continue the discussions on global health and foreign policy. As a member of the global health community, Japan will be able to contribute to the efforts to strive for universal health coverage and intends to continue to participate in this discussion actively.
Thank you. Mr. President.