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Health Ministers to call for sustainable financing mechanisms

9 May 2017

Commonwealth Health Ministers will gather for their annual meeting in Geneva on 21 May 2017, on the eve of the 70th World Health Assembly.

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.

The 2017 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.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “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. This year’s meeting of 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.”

Dr George Pamboridis, Cyprus’ Minister of Health will chair the one-day meeting, which will emphasise dialogue between ministers of the 52-nation Commonwealth. Three roundtable 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.

Dr Pamboridis said: “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. 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.”. 

With a strong security impetus for identifying effective governance mechanisms for the sustainable funding of universal health coverage, the meeting will consider approaches to financing health that have been adopted in the Commonwealth, and whether commitments to certain levels of expenditure might be appropriate.