UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday emphasized the need for collective action to translate the life-saving concept of universal health coverage into a tangible reality for all people.
"Let's transform the lifesaving vision of universal health coverage into reality for people, communities and countries around the world," the top UN official told the opening of the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage, one of the major meetings of world leaders being held during the high-level week of the 78th session of the UN General Assembly.
UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed delivered the statement on behalf of the UN secretary-general.
Guterres noted that the latest data showed 2 billion people faced financial hardship "due to out-of-pocket health spending," including 344 million people living in extreme poverty.
He underscored that governments must invest in systems that address communities' needs through a primary healthcare approach.
The UN chief pointed out that locally accessible primary healthcare is the foundation of universal health coverage - and people's first line of defense against illness and disease.
"Scaling up primary care interventions is a proven lifesaver, and could save 60 million lives by 2030 in low and middle-income countries," said the secretary-general.
"Governments must expand and improve these services, and ensure that people can receive multiple services in the same place at the same time," he stressed.
"They must ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services for girls and women, while focusing on the most vulnerable populations, including children, refugees, migrants, and those living through humanitarian crises," Guterres added.
The UN chief called on countries "to generously support" the SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) Stimulus to increase financing for sustainable development to reach at least 500 billion U.S. dollars per year, including investments in health systems.
The world body says the three-day high-level meeting presents an opportunity for countries and stakeholders to renew efforts and accelerate progress toward achieving health for all. "This will serve as the foundation for executing policies and ensuring responsibility for strengthening health systems for the future, building on the 2019 Political Declaration." ■