The UHC Forum was co-organized by the Government of Japan, JICA, the World Bank Group, WHO, UNICEF and the International Health Partnership for UHC2030. The key objective of the forum was to stimulate global and country-level progress towards universal health coverage, including pandemic preparedness, through the joint review of progress and sharing of country experiences.
World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was a strong advocate of the idea that business as usual will not lead to UHC by 2030. Therefore, innovation in all aspects of the health system is essential to success. The Business Unusual showcase focused on innovations for health systems in the future, very often with limited resources in difficult environments, which stride towards UHC through innovation. The primary goal of the M-TIBA showcase was to demonstrate public, private and civil society world leaders how UHC can be accelerated by capitalizing on the digital revolution that is transforming industries globally.
Jim Yong Kim and WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus spent considerable time at the M-TIBA booth to discuss M-TIBA’s potential for transforming the way health markets work, starting in Africa. The concept of mobile health wallets was also mentioned many times during plenary speeches at the Forum as an example for an affordable way forward to enhance access to health for all, including in speeches by Jim Yong Kim and the World Bank’s Global Lead of Health, Nutrition & Population Tim Evans.
At the high-level forum global leaders, including the Prime Minister of Japan Shinzō Abe, UN Secretary General António Guterres and Dr. Tedros, all agreed that political will is the key determinant for realizing UHC.
Jim Yong Kim compared realizing UHC with the HIV epidemic in the early 2000s: ‘People have to become activists! Just like in the HIV days, people should not die while the antidote is at hand.’ During the HIV epidemic, it was not the lack of medication, but a lack of political will that was holding back treatment of people in Africa. He emphasized that health is still a fundamental human right and should therefore be a government investment.
Also, investing in the health system not only saves lives but is also a crucial investment in the wider economy. Dr. Tedros agreed, concluding that ‘We all know that 1 dollar spent on health yields 20 dollars in income generation, so it is also shortsighted not to invest in health as it is required for economic development.’
Find more information on the UHC forum and the Business Unusual showcase here.
Also, you can watch Jim Yong Kim’s speech on UHC (from 45:50)