Delegation of the European Union
to the United Nations - New York

EU Statement by Commissioner Andriukaitis – United Nations General Assembly: High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage

New York, 23/09/2019 - 18:19, UNIQUE ID: 190923_13
Statements on behalf of the EU

23 September 2019, New York – Statement by Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, at the 74th United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage


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Mr. President, Excellences, Ladies and Gentlemen,


I welcome this first ever High-Level Meeting, which marks a critical juncture in our collective efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage by 2030. However, if we continue with the current pace we will not achieve our SDG target. Therefore, we need to rally support around Universal Health Coverage and commit to scale up our efforts.

I greatly appreciate the work of the co-facilitators for the political declaration, His Excellency Mr. Kaha Imnadze, Permanent Representative of Georgia, and His Excellency Mr. Vitavas Srivihok, Permanent Representative of Thailand, and I thank you for your negotiations skills, your patience and energy to reach consensus for this political declaration.

We in the European Union are firmly committed to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals, they are our guiding policy framework. The EU also appreciates the leadership of the United Nations in the global challenges we face.

The EU is committed to protecting and promoting the right of everyone to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, to promote human dignity, well-being and prosperity.

Health is an essential investment to achieve stable and prosperous societies, economic and social well-being and security.

We follow a rights-based approach, in accordance with the values that health systems within the EU are built on, values that are also enshrined in the European Consensus on Development. The EU remains committed to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of all human rights and to the full and effective implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the outcomes of their review conferences and remains committed to sexual and reproductive health and rights, in this context. Having that in mind, the EU reaffirms its commitment to the promotion, protection and fulfilment of the right of every individual to have full control over, and decide freely and responsibly on matters related to their sexuality and sexual and reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion and violence. The EU further stresses the need for universal access to quality and affordable comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information, education, including comprehensive sexuality education, and health-care services.

The EU will also continue to support partner countries in their efforts to build strong, good-quality and resilient healthcare and cure systems, by providing equitable access to medical services and universal health coverage. Eradicating poverty, tackling discriminations and inequalities and leaving no one behind will remain at the heart of EU development co-operation policy. 

The EU promotes a ‘health in all policies’ approach to ensure that underlying determinants of health are addressed beyond the health sector, such as gender equality, water and sanitation, education, food and nutrition security, decent work and social protection, environment and security.

EU-funded interventions in the area of health have focused on strengthening primary health care services. Between 2013 and 2017, EU funding  contributed to over 19 million births attended by skilled health personnel, more than  13 million children fully immunised,  57 million women supported to use contraception, 11 million people put on life-saving treatment for HIV and 600 million bed nets distributed for malaria prevention.

We also support the World Health Organization. Just recently, the European Commission signed an agreement with WHO for a 102 million euros Partnership Programme prioritising health systems strengthening and universal health coverage. 

This Programme will bring us closer to reaching our ambitious goal of health for all.  We need a comprehensive outlook, one where we work to have more qualified health workers and affordable medicines, and where we make sure the health sector gets the financing it needs.

The Partnership programme will focus on access to primary health care, ensuring quality health care services, access to affordable, quality medicines, health workforce training, while recognising the importance of health promotion and the prevention of non-communicable diseases.

We are also keen to ensure that universal health coverage is a reality in all the European Union countries as well.

Together we have to face the demographic challenges, the rising occurrence of non-communicable diseases, in particular cancer, the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance and vaccine hesitancy.

The Vaccination is part of the Universal Health Coverage. This is why, let me inform you that the Commission together with WHO organised this month a Global Vaccination Summit, where discussions led to ten necessary actions towards vaccination for all and elimination of vaccine preventable diseases.

We have a set of principles called “the EU Pillar of Social rights” which recognises the right to timely access to healthcare and stipulates that it should be affordable and of good quality. We monitor the accessibility to care across the EU as part of our mechanisms of socio-economic coordination.

We support our EU Member States with sound and timely scientific advice on effective ways to invest in health by sharing and exchanging best practices. We see great potential for digital services to help improve health care. Promoting a healthy lifestyle is crucial in our efforts to ensure “health for all”.

The EU will continue to support action to address universal health coverage at home and globally and I hope that this summit will push us in achieving Universal Health Coverage.

I thank you.

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