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Finance, Health Ministers back universal healthcare

Health and Finance Ministers from around the Asia Pacific have joined forces to endorse a future in which sustainable universal healthcare is a reality. 

The Ministers’ statement was contained in a statement issued by the World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) Western Pacific Region.

According to the statement, the Ministers have also emphasised the need for stronger collaboration to mobilise health care funding. 

The resolution was arrived at during the Joint Ministers of Finance and Health Symposium on Universal Health Coverage in Asia and the Pacific: COVID-19 and Beyond. 

The symposium was organised by the W.H.O. regional offices for south-east Asia and the Western Pacific, the Asian Development Bank (A.D.B.) and the Government of Japan.

The symposium brought together health and finance leaders, international organisations, civil society and other partners to build on universal healthcare commitments made at the G20 meeting in Osaka in June 2019.

(The G20 is an international organisation dedicated to promoting discussion among some of the world’s most powerful nations). 

Commitments to the same policy goal were made at a United Nations High-level Meeting on UHC in New York in September 2019. 

Under universal healthcare all people have access to health services without needing to undergo financial hardship. Services included under the concept range from primary health care, to treatment and rehabilitation and palliative care.

Speaking during the opening of the symposium, the W.H.O. Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr. Takeshi Kasai, made the case for continued investments in health policy. 

“We have long known about the link between good health and the economy, but COVID-19 has exposed current weaknesses and gaps in our health systems – making the task of reform even more urgent,” he said.

He added that history will judge whether the world’s nations use the lessons provided by the pandemic to build healthier, more sustainable societies and economies.

Attendees included: Ministers of Finance and ministers of Health from Fiji, Indonesia, South Korea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

This included discussing the role of universal healthcare in increasing resilience to health and economic shocks.

Over the past decade, countries in the W.H.O. Western Pacific Region has made significant health gains and increased their commitments to the concept of universal healthcare provision.

In some countries in the region, up to 60 per cent of people still lack access to essential health services, and more than one-in-five households spend over 10 per cent of their income on health care. Accelerating progress towards universal healthcare is one of the region’s founding goals. 

A.D.B. President, Masatsugu Asakaw, affirmed the A.D.B.’s support for universal healthcare as the foundation of strong societies. 

“We have to build health systems where people from all walks of life, including the elderly, the poor and the vulnerable, can access health services at an affordable cost while maintaining their financial sustainability,” he said. 

“Cose collaboration between Finance and Health Ministers is crucial for our member economies to provide both cost-effective, inclusive, and high-quality health interventions.”




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