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Universal Health Coverage Key to Conquering Covid-19, Thai Foreign Minister Tells UN

Without universal health care, Thailand’s coronavirus epidemic would have been worse, but more investment is needed before the next pandemic, the country’s foreign minister told a United Nations meeting.

Deputy Prime Minister Don Pramudwinai emphasized the importance of universal health coverage in addressing Covid-19 and preparing for future pandemics.

Don delivered his remarks via a pre-recorded video Sept. 30 at the high-level side event entitled “The Road to 2023: Kickoff to the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage” during the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The event was co-organized by Thailand, Japan and Georgia – co-chairs of the Group of Friends of Universal Health Coverage and Global Health – together with the World Health Organization and UHC2030. Participants who joined the event virtually included high-level representatives from the UN member states, international organizations and civil society organizations.

Don stressed the importance of strengthening UHC to better address Covid-19 and prepare for future pandemics.

He shared the following key priorities:

  • Promoting equitable, affordable, timely and universal access to vaccines and medicines by ensuring technology transfer to scale up production capacities at all levels – national, regional and global.
  • Tackling the challenge of underinvestment in healthcare infrastructures and services by strengthening global medical health financing mechanisms to help developing countries.
  • Integrating UHC as part of post Covi-19 response strategies by including UHC as an important part of international conversations on preparedness and response to future global health emergencies, including in the ongoing conversation on development of a pandemic treaty.

During the interactive session, participants exchanged views on progress in implementing the Political Declaration on UHC, which was adopted in 2019 (Thailand served as one of the co-facilitators in the process of negotiating the draft) and on the emerging health threats, as a part of preparation for the upcoming High-Level meeting on UHC in 2023.

In addition, participants emphasized the importance of UHC as a key foundation to enable countries to achieve the sustainable development goals, particularly Goal 3 on ensuring good health and well-being for all by 2030.