United Nations headquarters in NYC | © Shutterstock
United Nations headquarter in NYC | © Shutterstock

UN hearing and NCDA event to define priorities ahead of High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage

03rd May 2023

On 9 May, two participatory events gather NCD stakeholders to define and align priorities in the lead up to the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage.

Universal Health Coverage is healthcare that is affordable and accessible to all people. The United Nations High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UN HLM on UHC) will present a major opportunity for all countries to align their actions and accelerate progress towards a world that puts health first and leaves no one behind.

On 9 May and in preparation for the UN HLM, a multistakeholder hearing on Universal Health Coverage is being held at the United Nations in New York. Speakers will include Monika Arora, President-Elect of the NCD Alliance; Alison Cox, Policy and Advocacy Director of the NCD Alliance; and Nupur Lalvani, an NCD Diarist and woman living with NCDs in India.

The purpose of the hearing on UHC is to collect ideas from all stakeholders on urgent actions and investments in health needed to speed up progress towards achieving UHC by 2030, the end date of the SDGs. The hearing should also identify milestones to reach in achieving SDG 3.8 and assist in identifying the themes of the multistakeholder panels that will be included in the HLM.

The multistakeholder hearing on UHC is being organized alongside two additional hearings on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response and the fight against tuberculosis. A provisional programme outlines the scope and format of the three hearings. The hearings are being held ahead of the UN High-Level Meeting (UN HLM) on UHC, scheduled in New York on 21 September 2023 as part of the General Assembly, the annual gathering of 193 UN Member States.

Also on 9 May in New York, in conjunction with the hearing on UHC, NCDA and partners will be hosting a gathering of advocates called Enabling People Living with NCDs’ Right to Health through Universal Health Coverage. This event will aim to:

  • Bring the experiences of people living with NCDs to the UN;
  • Position action on NCDs as key to the progressive realization of UHC;
  • Present the NCD communities’ UHC advocacy asks;
  • Engage stakeholders in calling for NCD supportive text to be included during negotiations for the political declaration that will be issued at September’s HLM on UHC.

The event will be moderated by Elisha Dunn-Georgieu, President and CEO of the Global Health Council. Confirmed speakers include Mr. Werner Obermeyer, Director of the WHO office at UN Headquarters in New York; Dr. Monika Arora, President-Elect of NCD Alliance and Executive Director at HRIDAY; Ms. Alison Cox, Director of Policy and Advocacy at NCD Alliance; and Ms. Mariana Gomez Hoyos, VP of International Markets at Beyond Type 1 and a person living with an NCD.

It will be co-hosted by the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the UN, the Permanent Mission of Jamaica to the UN, WHO Office at the United Nations, and The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust. Participants will include people living with NCDs, experts from civil society, WHO representatives, and state actors, who will explore ways to integrate NCDs into the upcoming UN HLM through a lens of lessons learned and best practices. They will also analyse how integrating NCD priorities can strengthen and reinforce UHC. The event is open for registration.

NCDA’s policy brief on advocacy priorities for the HLM on UHC notes that although NCDs are the leading cause of death and disability and account for 74% of deaths globally, many countries are lagging behind on integrating NCDs into UHC health benefit packages and are not on track to attain the SDGs. Although limited, globally available data on the inclusion of NCD prevention and care in UHC packages shows wide gaps in coverage for NCD services between countries, and that more than half of countries are likely to miss SDG target 3.4 on NCD mortality reduction.

NCDA advocates that quality primary health care must form the basis of strong and resilient health systems that are able to deliver UHC across the full continuum of care, from health promotion and prevention to diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, and palliation. Yet, many inequalities persist in terms of NCD risk, access to services, and health outcomes, too often pushing households into cycles of poverty due to out-of-pocket spending on health.

At the UN HLM on UHC, NCDA will be calling on governments to recognize the needs of people living with NCDs, invest in the prevention and control of NCDs through adequate, predictable, and sustained resources as part of their UHC plans, and include NCD prevention and care services across the continuum of care and life course in their UHC health benefits packages. By doing so, they will be able to address the two intertwined goals of UHC and health security and move towards sustainable development.