We commend the United Nations and the Member States on the significant work done on the Universal Health Coverage Political Declaration, and for the high priority placed on expanding access to health care. We therefore urge Member States to join us in focusing on the important work of expanding health and opportunities for all people, and especially those in situations of risk and/or vulnerability.
As Prepared for Delivery
Good morning, everyone, and thank you for joining us here for this important event. I am Alex Azar, the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
We are here before the opening of the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage to present a joint statement, agreed to by 19 countries representing more than 1.3 billion people.
Leaders with me here today represent three of the six WHO regional groupings.
My colleagues Carlos Velazquez Monge, the Minister of Social Development of Guatemala; Luiz Henrique Mandetta, the Minister of Health of Brazil; Bocchit Edmond, Foreign Minister of Haiti; and I as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, represent the Americas Region.
Representing the Eastern Mediterranean Region is Nouri Sabah al-Dulami, the Minister for Planning of Iraq.
Representing the European Region is Jacek Czaputowicz, the Foreign Minister of Poland, and Katalin Annamaria Bogyay, Permanent Representative of Hungary to the U.N.
Because our nations value better health for all people, and value the work of international institutions toward that goal, we joined the process of producing this High-Level political declaration in good faith.
The diverse nations here today are united on a positive, constructive goal: focusing the international discourse around healthcare on better health and on the preservation of human life.
That is the goal of my work in the American healthcare system under President Trump, and that is the goal President Trump believes in working toward on the world stage.
We believe there is much to build on in today’s declaration to improve the health of our citizens.
We hope that our united voices on this statement will inform and amplify these priorities during today’s proceedings, and help focus the work to follow this declaration on improving the health of all our citizens.
I will now read the text of the joint statement:
“We are pleased to speak on behalf of the United States of America, Bahrain, Belarus, Brazil, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Guatemala, Haiti, Hungary, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen.
We believe that health of women, men, children and adolescents supports and improves the overall health of our families and communities, and that the family is the foundational institution of society and thus should be supported and strengthened.
We commend the United Nations and the Member States on the significant work done on the Universal Health Coverage Political Declaration, and for the high priority placed on expanding access to health care.
We therefore urge Member States to join us in focusing on the important work of expanding health and opportunities for all people, and especially those in situations of risk and/or vulnerability.
To make the most meaningful progress without delay or dissension, we respectfully call upon Member States to join us in concentrating on topics that unite rather than divide on the critical issues surrounding access to health care.
We do not support references to ambiguous terms and expressions, such as sexual and reproductive health and rights in U.N. documents, because they can undermine the critical role of the family and promote practices, like abortion, in circumstances that do not enjoy international consensus and which can be misinterpreted by U.N. agencies.
Such terms do not adequately take into account the key role of the family in health and education, nor the sovereign right of nations to implement health policies according to their national context. There is no international right to an abortion and these terms should not be used to promote pro-abortion policies and measures.
Further, we only support sex education that appreciates the protective role of the family in this education and does not condone harmful sexual risks for young people.
We therefore request that the U.N., including U.N. agencies, focus on concrete efforts that enjoy broad consensus among member states. To that end, only documents that have been adopted by all Member States should be cited in U.N. resolutions.
To this end, we also understand the important role the Sustainable Development Goals play in assisting countries realize their own path to universal health coverage, in accordance with national policies and legislation.
We strongly support the highest attainable health outcomes for women, men, children, and adolescents holistically and throughout their lives.
We support equal access to health care, which includes, but is not limited to reproductive concerns, maternal health, voluntary and informed family planning, HIV, elimination of violence against women and girls, and empowerment to reach the highest standard of health.
We support programs to improve the health, life, dignity, and well-being of women, men, children, and families, and we will continue to be their stalwart defender.
Let us focus on concrete issues and challenges to accelerate access to health for all.
To this end, international solidarity has a key role to play, in order to the build broad consensus by member states.”
That concludes our statement.
I thank all the nations who have joined in this united declaration today, and thank you everyone for your attention to this important issue.
See the additional countries that have signed on to the updated version of the Joint Statement on Universal Health Coverage.