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Wrapping up the UN General Assembly and High-Level Meeting on UHC

02 Oct 2019

On 22 September world leaders met in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, a jam-packed week of meetings, discussions, and side events organized around the most pressing global issues. The World Heart Federation was proud to represent our Members and the cardiovascular community at the highest levels of global governance, including at the UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage, where we submitted a statement calling on governments to implement the WHO ‘best buys’ and tax unhealthy products in order to help finance universal health coverage in their countries.

During the High-Level Meeting, world leaders adopted the first United Nations Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage. The Declaration is a result of months of debate and compromise, and while its contents cannot be considered perfect, the document represents the most comprehensive set of health commitments ever adopted at this level, providing a framework for action on UHC. We hope that this Declaration will also drive progress over the next decade on tackling non-communicable diseases through robust and resilient primary healthcare systems. At the meeting, leaders also pushed for an urgent “change of the financing paradigm” to “step up the pace of investment” towards UHC.

Healthy Budgets, Healthy People

“Investments in health and fiscal policies can only be led by finance ministers; trade agreements that drive the import and export of unhealthy foods and beverages are led by trade ministers; and environmental departments are responsible for cleaning up the air we breathe. On occasion of the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage, we are calling on Ministries of Health to engage more productively with their colleagues in Ministries of Finance.”

– Prof Fausto Pinto, President Elect, World Heart Federation

On 23 September the World Heart Federation hosted a discussion with Ministries of Finance on fiscal policies for health and financing UHC within the UN headquarters. While other organizations repeated calls for better engagement with financial policymakers just outside the door, WHF was walking the talk, bringing Ministers of Finance from Ukraine and Barbados to the same table with the Norwegian Minister of Health and representatives of the global health community, including WHF President Elect Professor Fausto Pinto and Past President Professor David Wood. This important discussion served as the foundation for what will become an ongoing dialogue between Ministers of Finance and health leaders, sustained and facilitated by WHF, to maximize the impact of fiscal policies for health around the world.

Watch the full video of the event

Exploring solutions for multi-morbidities prevention and control

On Tuesday 24 September we kept the ball rolling with a side event organized by the Global Coalition for Circulatory Health and hosted by the American Heart Association. By bringing together the global circulatory health community on the margins of the UN General Assembly, we once again turned words into action in response to calls for better cross-sectorial partnerships. Following introductory remarks from WHF Past President David Wood and WHO Assistant Director General Ren Minghui, the Coalition convened two stimulating panels on the prevention and treatment of multi-morbidities and the capacity of the healthcare workforce in the context of UHC and circulatory health.

What’s next?

The World Heart Federation was honoured to represent its Members at the NCD Alliance Supporters and Leaders meeting, and to world leaders at the High-Level Meeting on UHC, but our advocacy doesn’t stop here! From the annual WHO Regional Committees to the upcoming Consultative Meeting on NCDs in Oman, we’re already busy preparing to engage at the next series of high-level fora over the coming weeks and months. Stay tuned for more outcomes from these and other events and join us in our relentless fight for heart health for all.

Read more: The UN General Assembly and the Sustainable Development Goals