As global health crises simmer, UN lurches toward Universal Healthcare

In Global Advocacy by Fiona Ip

AHF recently participated in a preparatory meeting on Universal Health Coverage (UHC) at the United Nations headquarters in New York, ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting in September. While the ambitious plan seeks to provide access to effective healthcare for everyone, many challenges remain in its path.

We invite you to read a short Q&A with AHF Director of Global Advocacy & Partnerships, Joey Terrill who participated in the meeting along with hundreds of civil society delegates from around the world.

Why is an assembly on UHC important?

To create a path for UHC, many challenges need to be addressed first, including working to curb Big Pharma greed and price gouging, prioritizing underserved and marginalized communities in both low- and middle-income countries (MICs), and ending gender-based violence worldwide. Also, governments must be held accountable for their monetary commitments—without that, there can be no true UHC!

Also, those who are most in need and who are the most marginalized are the voices usually left out of any serious consideration and evaluation. On this day, we heard some of those voices, which was apparent when the panel member from Guatemala spoke about the need to incorporate indigenous cultural traditions and medicine for maternal care going back centuries with modern Western medicine strategies to get full participation in her country.

What was a memorable interaction you had with other participants?

I spoke to a woman from Nigeria where poverty and scarce options for maternal care in rural communities result in high rates of infant mortality and STIs. These are real-life situations in her village that stood in stark contrast to the soaring gold-leafed arc of the General Assembly room. 

Were there any unexpected moments at the UHC hearing?

During an unscheduled break, a woman representing a coalition of advocacy groups turned on her microphone and suggested civil society members add to the conversations that had taken place.

Without waiting for approval she began speaking and at one point asked, what makes any of us think that the very organizations—the profit-driven healthcare companies in the private sector, governments and the pharmaceutical industry—those who are responsible for creating the socioeconomic healthcare disparities in the first place, are now to be entrusted with developing UHC to fix them?

Stakeholders and attendees erupted with cheers and applause, and I thought to myself, now there is a Righteous Rebel!







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