The United Nations is meeting to adopt 17 sustainable development goals for eliminating poverty and building a more resilient planet. One of those goals includes providing universal health coverage.
267 economists from 44 countries, led by Lawrence H. Summers of Harvard University, are signatories to the Economists Declaration on Universal Health Coverage, which calls on global policymakers to prioritize a pro-poor pathway to universal health coverage as an essential pillar of sustainable development.
ECONOMISTS’ DECLARATION ON UNIVERSAL HEALTH COVERAGE
Published 18 September 2015 in
Lead Signatory: Lawrence H. Summers, Harvard University
Convened by The Rockefeller Foundation
With the United Nations set to launch the bold sustainable development agenda, this is a crucial moment for global leaders to reflect on the financial investments needed to maximize progress by 2030. As an input into deliberations around those investments, the signatories to this declaration, 267 economists from 44 countries, call on global policymakers to prioritize a pro-poor pathway to universal health coverage as an essential pillar of development.
Universal health coverage means ensuring that everyone can obtain essential health services at high quality without suffering financial hardship. Resource constraints require individual countries to determine their own definition of “essential” – while recognizing, in the words of former World Health Organization Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland, that “… if services are to be provided for all, not all services can be provided. The most cost-effective services should be provided first.”
Even granted this recognition of resource constraints, our generation has a historic opportunity to achieve a “grand convergence” in global health, reducing preventable maternal, child, and infectious disease deaths to universally low levels by 2035. In its report, Global Health 2035, the Lancet Commission on Investing in Health showed that with today’s powerful tools for improving health, and the prospect for continued improvement in those tools, financially feasible universal health coverage in every country could lead to grand convergence with its accompanying benefits in both health and in protection from health-related financial risks. (1)
We amplify these points below.
(edited for HCfANC)
Our global society has a vested interest in investing in health to transform lives and livelihoods.
The success of the next development chapter hinges on the ability to actually deliver proven health solutions to the poorest and most marginalized populations.
Every country has the opportunity to achieve universal health coverage.
Development assistance for health will play an essential part in achievement of a grand convergence in global health and universal health coverage.
We, the undersigned, therefore urge that:
- Heads of government increase domestic funds for global health convergence and provide vocal political leadership to implement policy reforms toward pro-poor universal health coverage;
- Donor countries meet their pledges for international development assistance and commit to investing in the global functions of development assistance for health, particularly research and development for diseases of poverty;
- Development financing discussions explicitly address equity, including who pays domestically and who benefits;
- National policymakers embrace universal health coverage, as defined above, as an integrated approach for measuring progress toward health targets in the post-2015 global development framework.
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