16 August 2018
UNGA Prepares for Three High-level Meetings on Health
Photo courtesy of SDG Fund
story highlights

On tuberculosis, the “biggest infectious killer in the world” (SDG target 3.3), the UNGA will hold a high-level meeting on 26 September 2018.

Agreement via silence procedure failed on the 20 July version of the draft outcome document.

Consultations are underway on the outcome of the comprehensive review of the prevention and control of NCDs (SDG target 3.4), taking place on 27 September 2018.

Governments agreed on the modalities for a high-level meeting on universal health coverage (SDG target 3.8) on 26 September 2019.

6 August 2018: Governments have advanced preparations for three high-level meetings on health: a high-level meeting on fighting tuberculosis (TB); the third high-level meeting of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases (NCDs); and a high-level meeting on universal health care (UHC).

All three topics are the subject of SDG targets found under Goal 3 (good health and well-being). Ending the TB epidemic by 2030 is called for in SDG target 3.3, which also addresses AIDS, malaria, neglected tropical diseases, hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases. SDG target 3.4 commits to reducing early deaths from NCDs by one-third by 2030, and SDG target 3.8 seeks to achieve universal health coverage by 2030, including financial risk protection and access to quality healthcare, medicines and vaccines.

The UNGA will hold a high-level meeting on 26 September 2018 on the theme, ‘United to End Tuberculosis: an Urgent Global Response to a Global Epidemic.’ The outcome document will take the form of a political declaration. A draft was placed under silence procedure on 20 July but the silence was broken, and “the next steps will be communicated to Member States in due course,” according to a letter from UNGA President Miroslav Lajcak.

TB is the “biggest infectious killer in the world,” highlighted UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during the interactive civil society hearing convened on 4 June 2018. He noted that social drivers of the disease include poverty, inequality and increasing rates of migration, and said the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Strategy to End Tuberculosis by 2030 provides a road map for progress. The hearing was organized with the support of the WHO and the Stop TB Partnership. Discussions were framed by four themes: reaching all people ill and affected by TB, financing, innovation, and partnerships to prioritize communities in an equitable, person-centered, rights-based response.

The NCDs meeting, which comprises a “comprehensive review of the prevention and control” of NCDs, will take place on the following day, 27 September 2018. The outcome of the meeting will be a political declaration, and consultations among Member States are under way in New York to decide on the text of the declaration. The permanent representatives of Italy and Uruguay serve as co-facilitators for these negotiations. The zero draft of the declaration, issued on 6 June 2018, outlined 24 actions, which Member States would commit to implementing, as part of scaling up their efforts on NCDs.

As part of the preparatory process for the high-level meeting, an interactive hearing took place on 5 July 2018. The hearing focused on four topics: scaling up action for the prevention and control of NCDs; financing for the prevention and control of NCDs; promotion of multi-sectoral partnerships for the prevention and control of NCDs; and political leadership and accountability.

On UHC, a high-level meeting will convene on 26 September 2019, with a focus on the theme, ‘UHC: Moving Together to Build a Healthier World.’ The meeting is expected to approve a “concise and action-oriented political declaration” that will be agreed in advance by consensus through intergovernmental negotiations.

On 6 August 2018, the UNGA adopted a decision on the ‘Scope, Modalities, Format and Organization’ of the UHC meeting, noting that it will consist of an opening segment, a plenary segment, two multi-stakeholder panels and a closing segment. The permanent representatives of Hungary and Thailand served as co-facilitators for negotiations on the modalities.

In December 2016, the UNGA underlined the primary responsibility of Member States to accelerate the transition towards universal health coverage (resolution 71/1159), and in December 2017 the UNGA decided to hold a high-level 2019 meeting on the subject (resolution 72/139). It also agreed to proclaim 2 December as International Universal Health Coverage Day (resolution 72/138).

On World Health Day 2018, held on 7 April, the WHO launched a campaign for Universal Health Coverage, and emphasized that one billion more people must have coverage by 2023, in order to achieve SDG target 3.8. [NCD Meeting Website] [TB Meeting Website]

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