The EU will invest an additional €125 million to strengthen health systems, in particular to help extend universal health coverage, through a partnership program with the World Health Organisation (WHO), signed today by Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros. The partnership is a key deliverable of the new EU Global Health Strategy adopted by the European Commission today. Indeed, strengthening health systems and advancing universal health coverage worldwide is one of the three key priorities of the Strategy.
Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said: “In line with Global Gateway and its health component the new Global Health Strategy which we are launching today, the EU continues to develop and strengthen meaningful and mutually beneficial partnerships for health. I am delighted to sign today with Dr. Tedros a new contribution of €125 million EU contribution for the period 2023–2027 to our Universal Health Coverage Partnership with the World Health Organization. As COVID-19 dramatically highlighted, resilient health systems and equitable access to health care are key to ensuring individual well-being and identifying and managing public health threats effectively.”
“Health is a fundamental human right, and universal health coverage is critical for achieving that right,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating evidence that UHC is the foundation to resilience and sustainable development for all. That's true for individuals and families confronting a life-threatening illness, and it's true for countries—and the whole world—in the face of epidemics and pandemics. I am grateful to the European Union for its strong leadership and longstanding commitment to helping the world achieve UHC.”
Public health epidemics and pandemics with their devastating social and economic consequences demonstrate the importance of investing in universal health coverage (UHC): in ensuring that all people have access to quality health services, when and where they need them, without financial hardship.
The Commission initiated the UHC Partnership in 2011 to enable WHO to promote universal health coverage at country level through strengthening health systems. While progress was stalled by the COVID-19 pandemic, universal health coverage has improved in all countries benefiting from the Partnership. To date, the Commission has invested previously about €200 million in the UHC Partnership since 2011.
The Partnership helped increase the worldwide average coverage of essential health services from 58% in 2011 to close to 68% in 2019.
Thanks to the Partnership, 130 health policy advisors deployed across 115 WHO country offices covering more than 4 billion people support strategic planning and governance, and help develop financing strategies and their implementation in partner countries. The Partnership greatly contributed to the emergency response and preparedness to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the policy advisors in several countries playing an essential role in the scaling up of quick responses.