Statement by Prime Minister and Leader of Nepali Delegation Rt. Hon. Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ at the High- Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage
New York, 21 September 2023
Theme- Universal health coverage: expanding our ambition for health and well-being in a post-COVID world.
Mr. Secretary General,
At the outset, I would like to thank you, Mr. President, for convening this High-Level Meeting.
Universal health coverage is critical for meeting health-related SDGs and targets as well as in realizing health as the fundamental right.
The UHC is not just about health and well-being. It is also about ensuring social inclusion and equality, unleashing human potential, ensuring economic growth, and enhancing human dignity.
Soon after the first Political Declaration on Universal Health Coverage was adopted in 2019, we faced health challenges unseen in recent history due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This left a huge gap in the implementation of the Declaration.
Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda, the universal health service coverage index has just increased marginally. And components of UHC related to non-communicable diseases, health service capacity, and access have seen minimal or no progress.
Our commitment to provide quality essential health services and affordable essential medicines to billions of people remains unfulfilled.
Our promise of addressing the out-of-pocket health expenditure and eliminate impoverishment due to health-related expenses has remained unmet.
In the absence of sustained financing, challenges facing the least developed and low-income countries are more acute.
Nepal recognizes health as a fundamental human right and provides free basic health services to Nepali people as a part of social security program.
We remain committed to ensuring access of poor and disadvantaged groups to universal and primary health services and prevent them from falling into poverty due to health care costs.
Nepal introduced the National Health Insurance Program in 2016.
Access to the insurance programme has been expanded across the country. We are facilitating the access of low-income groups and communities to micro-insurance through the local level.
The government aims to bring half of the population under the insurance scheme within this year.
We are implementing the Nepal Health Sector Strategy (2023-2030) that aims to ensure equitable access, quality health services and health system reform.
Even with limited resources, we have achieved good progress in reducing child and maternal mortality, controlling communicable disease, and preventing neglected tropical diseases.
WHO in 2019 placed Nepal among the countries to have achieved the highest relative change in the previous two decades in terms of UHC.
Yet, this is not sufficient to realize health-related goals of the 2030 Agenda.
Therefore, financing healthcare with innovative and modern technology and infrastructure remains our top priority.
The whole-of-society and health-in-all-policies approaches guide our efforts to achieve SDGs and UHC by 2030.
However, our success will be contingent upon an enhanced level of support and cooperation from the international community, development partners, and the UN agencies.
To conclude, Mr. President, the Political Declaration on UHC is a comprehensive blueprint for us all to accelerate action and realize the UHC and SDG by 2030.
We must renew our resolve and work collectively to recover better and build resilience against future health threats.
Thank you for your attention.