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WHF Statement at the UN Multi-Stakeholder Hearing on Universal Health Coverage

10 May 2023

This is a statement delivered by Diana Vaca McGhie, Chair of the WHF Advocacy Committee, and Tom Gaziano, Chair of the WHF Science Committee at the UN Multi-Stakeholder Hearing on Universal Health Coverage.

Honorable President and Chair, Distinguished Delegates,

We note with disappointment that, according to the latest report by the WHO Director-General, the world is not currently on track to achieve the SDG 3 targets. However, we feel strongly that a Universal Health Coverage system that incorporates a few key strategic components could help us get much closer to the targets than our current trajectory.

Circulatory diseases, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and kidney disease, are the number one cause of death and disability worldwide, leading to more than 20 million deaths and 374 million healthy years of life lost every year.  In the absence of UHC, the chronic nature of circulatory disease has a catastrophic impact on a country’s development and is responsible for the generational poverty experienced in many LMICs. In fact, over 60% of people living with CVD, stroke, and cancers incur catastrophic out-of-pocket expenditures in some LMICs. As witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic, it also has a devastating compounding impact on health when experienced alongside infectious disease. Therefore, the World Heart Federation, supported by the Members of the Global Coalition for Circulatory Health, calls on Member States to:

  • Engage people living with NCDs and circulatory conditions to keep UHC people-centered
  • Accelerate progress towards UHC through robust and well-financed primary health care systems, based on the principles of quality, equity, accessibility, and affordability
  • Ensure adequate and sustained financing for, and availability of, circulatory health services, in the context of national UHC strategies; including for prevention, acute and chronic treatments, and rehabilitation, while additionally incorporating digital innovations in circulatory health
  • Include cost-effective circulatory health interventions that also address their risk factors into national UHC packages of essential interventions to be delivered at primary health care level, drawing on examples from Appendix 3 of the WHO Global NCD Action Plan and the HEARTS Technical Package.

90% of essential interventions for UHC can be delivered through PHC. We urge Member States to embrace health as an investment and we look forward to supporting you in your endeavors.