BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Regional health officials will focus on universal health coverage when they attend the annual meeting of Commonwealth Health Ministers in Geneva, Switzerland later this month.The theme for the meeting is: 'Sustainable Financing of Universal Health Coverage as an Essential Component for Global Security including the Reduction of All Forms of Violence'.
At last year's meeting, ministers recognised the importance of health security as a bridge to peace and stability, as well as the role the health sector can play in strengthening global security, including preparedness and responses to public health threats and disasters.
This year, the meeting will build on these discussions by exploring the role of health as part of a coordinated, multi-sectoral approach to promoting global security, with a particular focus on preventing violence and building safe and resilient societies.
“Financing universal health coverage is a priority for all countries in the Commonwealth – and there is well-attested evidence that it enhances resilience and security as part of a package of approaches. Robust health systems are also direct contributors to equitable growth and sustainable development,” said Commonwealth Secretary General Patricia Scotland.
She said that during this meeting, Commonwealth health ministers will seek consensus on a collective plan of action for the Commonwealth “to ensure that accessible, affordable health systems are a reality for all our citizens”.
Four years ago, the United Nations unanimously endorsed universal health coverage as a cornerstone of sustainable development and global security, underpinning its role in promoting collective security and prosperity.
Universal health coverage also reinforces attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals under Target 3.8 to: “Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.”
The one day meeting to be held on May 21 – the eve of the 70th World Health Assembly, will be chaired by the Minister of Health from Cyprus, Dr George Pamboridis.
Three round-table sessions will cover financing of universal health coverage; the role of health in global security; and, preventing violence.
The meeting will conclude with a statement of action.
“Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting is a unique platform for deliberating and sharing experiences and mutual learning, as a way to accelerate the pace to meet the relevant Target of 'Sustainable Development Goals', to secure the highest standard of health to our population as a fundamental human right,” said Pamboridis who added that “to achieve Universal Health Coverage is the centre of gravity for all national efforts, despite our diverse set of health needs. The global geographic spread of our countries implies the necessity of acting jointly on cross border risks to public health security, since domestic action alone has not been proven sufficient in ensuring health locally.”