UN chief calls for more investment in health systems on Int'l Universal Health Coverage Day

UNITED NATIONS, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday called for more investment in health systems on International Universal Health Coverage Day, which falls on Dec. 12.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers a speech at the Climate Ambition Summit at the UN headquarters in New York, on Dec. 12, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)

"The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us just how important it is for all countries to have strong health systems that provide the entire population with quality services when and where they need them," said Guterres in a message.

"This year we have seen the tragedy that strikes when health facilities are overwhelmed by a new, highly infectious and often deadly disease, and when the effort to address that emergency means that systems are so stretched they can no longer provide other essential services such as cancer screening, routine immunization and care for mothers and babies."

Countries must do far more to achieve the goal of universal health coverage by 2030, he said.

This means spending more on health. But it also means spending better, from protecting health workers and strengthening infrastructure to preventing diseases and providing health care close to home, in the community. Investments in health systems also improve countries' preparedness and response to future health emergencies, he said.

Health emergencies have disproportionate impacts on marginalized and vulnerable populations. As new COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments become available, they must reach all those who need them. This year's pandemic has made it clear that no one is safe until everyone is safe, said Guterres.

"For Universal Health Coverage Day, let us commit to end this crisis and build a safer and healthier future by investing in health systems that protect us all -- now."