Kemi Osukoya


September 3, 2019

The World Health Organization Director General Dr. Tedros Adhamon Ghebreyesus calls on world leaders to advocate for universal health coverage.

The call comes ahead of an upcoming important High-Level meeting on Universal Health Coverage that is scheduled to take place later this month during the United Nations General Assembly.

Dr. Ghebreyesus, who recently returned from a tour visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres where they reviewed the ongoing response to the current Ebola outbreak, said the Ebola outbreak is a reminder that “when people don’t have access to health services, or those services are of poor quality or don’t meet their needs, diseases can spread and lives can be lost.”

“UHC is a political choice,” Dr. Ghebreyesus said. “UHC is also a smart economic choice. When countries invest in health, they lay a platform for gains in productivity and economic growth. When people are healthy, they can learn, earn, work and create. The benefits for businesses, economies, individuals, families, communities and countries are enormous.”

Dr. Ghebreyesus’ calls to world leaders to promote UHC echoes President Paul Kagame’s urgent called to African leaders to implement better health coverage their population to improve overall economic outcomes.

The current Ebola outbreak in DRC, which started in August 2018, was initially considered containable but has since spread to other neighboring countries. So far, more than $500 million have been galvinized from the World Bank, African Development Bank, and governments around the world, including the U.S., to combat the recent outbreak.

In July, the World Bank rallied $300 million financing, in addition to the US$100 million already disbursed through the World Bank and the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility (PEF) in response to the current Ebola Outbreak in DRC.

The High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage at the United Nations General Assembly will take place on Monday September 23, and is viewed as an opportunity for world leaders to ensure that no one is denied access to the health services they need simply because they cannot access or afford them.

Governments are expected to sign a comprehensive declaration on health in history, commit to investing in four major areas: robust financing mechanisms, high-impact services, a strong health workforce, and strengthened governance and institutional capacity. This builds on the commitments made by world leaders at the Astana Global Conference on Primary Health Care in 2018, in which all countries committed to strengthening primary health care as the foundation of UHC

In 2015, world leaders made a commitment to achieve UHC by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. In the lead-up to the General Assembly, WHO and partners will publish the latest version of the Global Monitoring Report on UHC, which will show we are off-course to meet that target. Far too many people still lack access to essential health services, or are pushed into extreme poverty by paying for them.

In addition to world leaders, Dr. Ghebreyesus is asking the general public around the world to support UHC and show their support by signing a petition on and use the #HealthForAll.

The health organization, an agency of the United Nations, is also hosting a walk, and run health event in Central Park in New York City on Sunday, September 22 to galvanize support for UHC. The event is open and registration is free to the public.